Casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere in Nevada will have to follow new social distancing guidelines — including a 50% capacity limit in gaming areas — whenever they reopen .
This is to keep in line with precautions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which closed all commercial casinos in the U.S.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued new guidelines on May 1, outlining requirements for all restricted and non-restricted license holders, according to documents posted on the GCB website.
The board issued policies “to diminish personal contact and increase the level of disinfection in high-use areas,” according to the document.
The documents also spelled out that establishments such as sportsbooks, Keno lounges and Bingo halls must ensure people do not gather in groups and that social distancing guidelines — the general rule is customers should be 6 feet apart — are followed.
The guidelines for specific gaming areas are: Six players per craps table, three per blackjack table and four people at roulette wheels and poker tables.
Casinos are already gearing up to take new precautions in the wake of new social distancing and customer protection norms. Last week, the El Cortez Casino in downtown Las Vegas starting testing new personal safety shields in its gaming spaces.
The clear acrylic shields, made by Las Vegas company Screaming Images, are designed to keep a physical barrier between players and dealers, as well as keeping customers from spreading germs to each other. El Cortez installed the shields at its blackjack tables and other gaming spaces on a trial basis.
The state GCB issued separate guidelines for restricted and non-restricted gaming establishments. Restricted places mostly include facilities with 15 or fewer slot machines, often bar/restaurants, convenience stores and supermarkets, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman have called for the city’s famed casinos to reopen as soon as possible.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 15. Sisolak had issued that order on April 1, applying to the entire month. He lengthened that order last week while allowing for a little loosening, according to a Review-Journal report.
But Sisolak told ABC last week that the re-opening of casinos would have to wait until “the third or fourth phase” of the state’s plan to reopen.
The state’s guidelines, issued to all restricted and non-restricted license holders, addressed several concerns regarding customer safety in the wake of coronavirus, including plans to “clean and disinfect all of its hard and soft surfaces” in gaming areas. The guidelines also spelled out policies for cleanliness in hotel areas and staff areas including kitchens, housekeeping, maintenance and more.