Nevada’s gambling regulators have ordered all table game players to wear COVID-19 masks if their presence isn’t physically separated from one another.
On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board revised its health and safety policies for casinos that are reopening following their lengthy pandemic-related closure. The change comes after Nevada reported an unprecedented number of new COVID-19 cases, just two weeks after the casinos were allowed to reopen.
Casinos now “must require patrons to wear face coverings at table and card games if there is no barrier, partition, or shield between the dealer and each player.” The requirement applies equally to table/card players and spectators, and anyone else within six feet of the gaming position.
While casinos have encouraged guests to wear masks and are required to provide free masks to guests who request them, anecdotal reports suggest an extremely small minority of gamblers are opting to actually wear the things. This is despite evidence that widespread mask use is an effective means of limiting COVID-19 transmission.
There is a potential downside to mask-wearing, in that it can be hard to distinguish the safety-conscious from those with more malign intent. The latter is represented by William Clark, the man accused of robbing the New York-New York casino last week while wearing a surgical mask.
As more Las Vegas casinos announce plans to reopen, some are taking extra precautions regarding their table games. The Sahara, for example, is now taking reservations up to 72 hours in advance for groups of players who wish to play blackjack, roulette and baccarat without having to share airspace and/or droplets with unfamiliar guests.
The Sahara’s Take A Seat program allows groups of players who are members of the same household to book a reservation “up to the pre-social distancing table capacity maximum.” Casinos not offering this perk are currently limited to three players per blackjack table, four for roulette and six for craps.
The Sahara isn’t just being accommodating here, because while booking a table doesn’t require players to be a member of the casinos’ Player Club rewards program, “prior to play, all guests will need to have an active account.” Never let a crisis go to waste, as they say.