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Nevada casinos could face penalties for not filing emergency plans

Updated May 11, 2018 - 5:24 pm

A state task force Friday moved closer to overhauling how Nevada tracks casino emergency response plans in the wake of the Oct. 1 mass shooting outside Mandalay Bay.

The 14-member panel met and approved several recommendations in a report seeking to change an outdated state law requiring casinos to submit emergency plans. The recommendations would strengthen the law to allow Nevada gaming regulators to discipline resorts that do not submit or update plans and modernize the filing system.

The Nevada Resort Planning Task Force, created by the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, also approved a comprehensive guide to help resorts put together their plans.

The task force began work in February after a Review-Journal investigation found that the emergency management division had not reviewed the plans for most Las Vegas Strip casinos, including Mandalay Bay, for nearly five years.

Most Strip resorts also had not provided updated plans to the state during that period, the investigation found.

There is no evidence that state oversight lapses contributed to the shooting deaths or injuries at Mandalay Bay, where a sniper armed with high-powered rifles attacked an outdoor concert from his 32nd-floor suite, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more.

“The report, with its findings and recommendations, and the planning guide really do a good job of assessing the challenges and addressing them with real changes that will be beneficial going forward,” Caleb Cage, chief of the emergency management division, said last week.

Clark County Emergency Manager John Steinbeck said after the meeting that the proposed requirements will improve the quality of the plans.

The recommendations, which will be presented to the Nevada Homeland Security Commission, seek to require casinos under the 2003 state law to either file or update their plans annually by Nov. 1. The changes, if approved by the Legislature, would allow the emergency management division to provide a list of non-compliant properties to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which could then fine the casinos or suspend or revoke their licenses if they continue to refuse to file plans.

The task force also wants the law to emphasize cooperation between resorts and first responders in a crisis.

The task force, which includes emergency managers and casino security executives, also agreed to meet within a year to review the planning guide and make any changes that would help resorts.

Cage, who chairs the task force, said updating the filing system would make it easier for casinos to submit their plans, which are confidential under the law. But he added his agency first must find a permanent funding source, either within its budget or through the Legislature.

By law, an emergency plan must provide a drawing or map of all areas within the buildings and grounds of a casino, with a description of each area. A drawing or description of the internal and external access routes also must be included.

Casinos also must provide an evacuation plan, the location of emergency equipment and command posts, the telephone number of the emergency response coordinator and a description of any public health or safety hazards.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands Corp. operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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