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Gaming Control Board details casino requirements for reopening

Updated May 4, 2020 - 3:07 pm

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Wednesday will consider the state Gaming Control Board’s new health and safety policy statements detailing instructions for the reopening of casinos with guidelines that include social distancing requirements.

The guidelines, posted late Friday on the control board’s website, include a seven-page document for nonrestricted licensees and a four-page notice for restricted licencees — those with 15 or fewer slot machines generally held by convenience stores, supermarkets, bars and restaurants.

Both directives require licensees to provide a detailed reopening plan at least seven days before their planned opening. Neither requires customers or employees to wear masks, but some companies are expected to enact such policies individually.

Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos closed March 17 in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. That order has subsequently been extended to an undetermined opening date based on the state reaching benchmarks that include continued declines in new cases and hospitalizations and improved levels of expanded testing and contact tracing.

Some Strip resorts still hope to open by Memorial Day, with some suggesting they may remain dark until at least June.

Among the requirements of casino companies listed in the new documents:

— Properties must limit occupancy to no more than 50 percent of the limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes. Properties can use head counts by security personnel, existing surveillance systems and slot machine accounting systems to estimate occupancy numbers.

— Plans must include how hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes would be available to all casino employees as well as for patron use.

— Plans must ensure that the floor plan for slot machines creates proper social distancing between patrons. The guideline suggests that chairs and stools in front of every other gaming machine be removed so that patrons do not sit next to each other, or licensees could propose other measures to ensure proper distance between players. Employees will be assigned to focus on ensuring guests don’t congregate in groups.

— Social distancing will be required in all table games. Limits will include three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table and four players per poker table. Casino supervisors and managers must ensure that patrons do not congregate in groups around gaming tables.

— Plans will require regular cleaning and disinfection of table games, rails, chairs, dice, card shoes, shufflers, roulette wheels, pai gow tiles, pit podiums, blackjack discard holders and tip boxes when a new player or employee comes in contact with any of those items. Plans also will address how licensees will disinfect cards and chips.

— Plans must ensure that patrons do not congregate in groups and practice social distancing in race and sportsbooks, keno lounges, bingo halls and any other gaming areas. Plans also must include how those areas will be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.

— Nightclubs and dayclubs within a licensee’s property must remain closed until further notice.

— The board expects all licensees to comply with all health and safety guidelines and directives issued by federal, state and local governing authorities with respect to the operation of hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and swimming pools.

— Any area where patrons queue should have signage requiring social distancing in accordance with government requirements. All restaurants and bars should have reduced seating under government requirements to allow for appropriate distancing between each table and between customers.

— Social distancing requirements will be in place at any meeting and convention space. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines prohibiting gatherings of 250 people or more will be enforced until further notice. Food service for meetings and conventions will be served by personnel and managed under government requirements.

Similar requirements also are in place for the smaller restricted licensees, including the 50 percent occupancy rules and social distancing at bartop slot machines. The board suggested covering a machine’s bill and ticket validator so that customers do not use that machine.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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