Nevada Gaming Control Board Releases Guidelines to Enforce Social Distancing as Casinos in Las Vegas Seek to Reopen

Cheering crowds next to gaming tables will be a thing of the past when casinos reopen in Nevada after the coronavirus lockdown ends, according to guidance issued by the state's gambling regulator.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak unveiled a plan on Thursday in which retail stores, small businesses and other "low density open spaces" could reopen in a bid to get the state's economy going again.

The governor has not yet given casinos the authority to reopen, but when they do, casinos in the state will have to follow tougher rules on social distancing, and health and safety policies aimed at mitigating coronavirus risks.

A seven-page memo released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board states there should be limits on how many people are in the casino at any one time. It also says there should be no more than three players at a blackjack table, six players at a craps table and limits of four players for roulette and poker tables.

Blackjack table
A safety shield dividers is tested at a blackjack table at the El Cortez Hotel & Casino, which is closed due to the continuing shutdown. Guidance has been issued to casinos in the city for how they should operate when they reopen. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Casino supervisors and managers have been told they should clear people who start to gather around tables and are suggested to remove chairs in front of gaming machines to make sure there is adequate social distancing.

"In consultation with the office of the governor, as well as federal, state, and local health officials, the Board has created this policy to diminish personal contact and increase the level of disinfection in high-use areas, and expects full compliance with this policy by its non-restricted licensees," the document states.

Casinos have been shuttered since mid-March, along with restaurants and other businesses not deemed essential. Sisolak is easing restrictions but has not specified when casinos would be able to take bets again. He told ABC News that it is likely not to happen until the third or fourth phase of his reopening plan.

Like other industries, casinos in the state have been hit hard by the coronavirus and the uncertainty of when they can reopen.

In 2018, the gaming industry in the state employed 450,100 workers, was worth $67 billion and contributed 37.5 percent to the state government's tax revenue, Card Player.com reported.

Station Casinos, which owns 20 hotel-casino properties in the state, announced it would lay off a "significant" number of employees from the middle of the month, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It said it would delay reopening some of its properties until it saw what effect the coronavirus had on the tourist market.

"When we are permitted to reopen, we don't know what business will look like, other than knowing that business levels will be lower as a result of this unprecedented crisis," said CEO Frank Fertitta III in a letter to employees, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.
Nevada Gaming Control Board Releases Guidelines to Enforce Social Distancing as Casinos in Las Vegas Seek to Reopen | News