The state of Nevada has stepped up its oversight of security measures at the state’s casinos thanks to the stroke of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s pen.
SB 69, which increases the power of the state’s emergency management chief Caleb Cage, had been passed unanimously by both chambers of the Nevada legislature, It not only increases the state’s oversight over casinos but local governments, schools and utilities as well.
As for the impact on casinos, the law now requires them to update their emergency management plans on an annual basis.
That must include a drawing or a map of the entire facility with a description, any safety hazards, location of emergency equipment, security command posts and access routes denoted.
An evacuation plan must also be included and shared with local fire and law enforcement. Finally, contact information for the casino’s emergency response staff along with the staff responsible for compliance must be included. All that is due to the state each year by Nov. 1.
Casinos found not in compliance can be reported to the state’s gaming commission. The commission has the authority to fine casinos on top of revoke or suspend their gaming licenses.
All these changes were at the behest of a task force that involved casino representatives in the aftermath of a tragedy.
On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman murdered 58 people and injured hundreds more at the Mandalay Bay Casino.
Shortly thereafter, then-Gov. Brian Sandoval supported the creation of a task force to evaluate what could be done to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
The newly-created Nevada Resort Planning Taskforce consisted of local and state officials along with casino executives.
After over a year of review, the panel determined the power of the state to police casinos’ readiness for such an emergency was lacking.
A law had been enacted in 2003 to require facilities to have plans on hand, but the members of the task force determined that the language of the code contained no real enforcement measures. That had resulted in poor oversight of emergency plans at casinos.
The new law aims to address that issue by forcing the issue of communication between casinos and the state on the subject of emergency preparedness on an annual basis under significant penalty for failing to do so.
The bill seems to have a shortcoming, however. It contains no funding for the upgrading of an electronic system used to track facilities’ compliance with the new law.
It’s possible that funding could come from other sources and according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the current system is adequate in the opinion of Cage.
After signing the bill, Gov. Sisolak made a prepared statement reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I was proud to sign legislation into law that strengthens requirements for emergency response plans for cities, counties, schools, and resort hotels to improve our ability to keep Nevadans and visitors safe.”
With increased oversight hopefully comes better security measures at Nevada’s public facilities, improving the chances that a tragedy like the one at Mandalay Bay will never again happen.