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Cosmopolitan’s casino gets OK to return to full capacity

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has waived casino capacity restrictions for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

On Saturday, the Strip casino-resort received approval from the control board to lift occupancy restrictions because of high vaccination rates among workers. The property said 80 percent of its active workforce had been vaccinated as of Tuesday, with each vaccination card verified through the resort’s COVID response team.

The casino can also remove social distancing restrictions and plastic barriers at gaming tables, according to a Tuesday news release.

“We believe the only clear path to normalcy and bringing our entire workforce back is through vaccinations,” property CEO and President William McBeath said in the release. “It’s pertinent to not only The Cosmopolitan, but to our entire industry in ensuring travel can safely return to the destination. I could not be more proud of our team for doing their part to protect our city.”

Cash, raffles and other incentives

The high vaccination rates follow various incentives — including cash bonuses — set by the property as part of an internal vaccination campaign that launched last month.

An April statement from The Cosmopolitan said it had committed to paying upward of $1 million in cash bonuses if 80 percent of its workforce received their first vaccine dose by May 1. The resort said Tuesday that it has extended its vaccination deadline to May 8 to further increase vaccination rates, which would bring the total bonuses “to well over $1 million.”

The cash incentive is a tiered system: The more workers vaccinated, the larger the bonus.

According to a letter sent to employees and obtained by the Review-Journal last month, an 80 percent vaccination rate would mean a $250 cash bonus, 90 percent would be $350 and 100 percent would be $500.

Additionally, if the resort reaches an 85 percent vaccination rate by May 8, vaccinated workers will be entered into a raffle for the chance to win $10,000, the company said Tuesday.

Cosmopolitan workers who don’t get vaccinated will be required to take a COVID-19 test weekly.

The company’s internal campaign also included virtual and in-person roundtable sessions with medical professionals and an onsite vaccination clinic for workers and their immediate families.

The push for vaccines

The Cosmopolitan’s vaccination rate eclipses that of Nevada, which has initiated vaccinations for 46 percent of those 16 and older as of Monday, according to data from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Census Bureau.

Gov. Steve Sisolak commended The Cosmopolitan for its vaccination efforts in Tuesday’s release.

“Since the start of our vaccination efforts, we have made it a goal to increase access and work toward equity, which meant we had to ensure Nevada’s largest and most diverse workforce was prioritized and had as much access to the COVID-19 vaccine as possible,” Sisolak said. “I am grateful to strong partnerships across the industry to bring the vaccine to workers and their families.”

Gaming Control Board Chair Brin Gibson said The Cosmopolitan is “one of the few” Las Vegas gaming properties to receive approval to return to full capacity.

Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s Encore and Wynn casinos also received approval to operate at full capacity, but control board spokesman Michael Lawton has declined to share whether other casino operators have received similar approvals. All Clark County casinos had the ability to move from 50 percent capacity to 80 percent on Saturday.

“The Cosmopolitan demonstrated substantial efforts to vaccinate its workforce and have set an industry standard in what can be accomplished through smart and swift action,” Gibson said in the statement. “We’ve asked (The Cosmopolitan) to share their methodology, strategy and success with the wider hospitality industry. We look forward to seeing all resort partners across The Strip continue the momentum.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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