Nevada Gaming Control Board Sets Guidelines For Vegas Reopening

In order for Las Vegas casinos to reopen, they must follow the Nevada Gaming Commission’s requirements. Stakeholders issued plans and guidelines to set the new normal for casinos during the anticipated Vegas reopening.

On May 7, the commission adopted a plan that detailed the steps companies must take in order to reopen, once it’s allowed. Currently, Nevada is under a ‘stay at home’ order, but that could change soon.

The order currently expires on May 15.  Even if Governor Sisolak wants to extend it, a recently filed lawsuit may force doors to open. With that in mind, gaming officials developed specific requirements for casinos to follow.

When Will Vegas Reopen?

“At this time, gaming operations are not able to resume,” said Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst with the Nevada Gaming Commission. “The purpose of the policies were to give gaming licensees notice as to what is expected of them when they reopen.”

He added that before the casinos received the policies, several stakeholders reviewed and approved the guidelines. This included the Southern Nevada Health District, the Washoe County Health District, and an infectious disease physician at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada. Also, the document makes it clear that if casinos don’t follow the rules, they can’t reopen.

“All final decisions on how gaming establishments reopen in the State of Nevada will be determined by the Board and presented to the Nevada Gaming Commission for ratification,” the document states.

Steps to Take Before Anticipated Vegas Reopening

There are two sets of rules and requirements for Nevada casinos to follow, with the first focused on pre-opening requirements.

Before those doors open, each operation must clean and disinfect all of its hard and soft surfaces in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines. This must be documented and verified with the commission.

Employee Training

Also, casino employees must to be trained on both the proper cleaning procedures and how to prevent the spread of infectious disease. That includes learning about social distancing, handwashing, and how not to spread germs at work.

As with the cleaning, it’s not enough for companies to say they’ve gone through this training. The casinos must document employee training.

Documenting Social Distancing Guidelines

For proper social distancing, the commission referred us to the CDC’s guidelines. That document states all people must stay at least six feet or about two arms’ length from everyone else. They also can’t gather in groups. This is a challenge for casinos, both logistically and economically.

Casinos have to turn in all their documentation and tell the commission they agree to comply with all requirements before doors can open. Specifically, the commission’s plan requires casinos have to file their documents at least one week before they plan to reopen. This also can’t be a temporary measure, something planned for one week and forgotten the next.

“[This policy] should be regularly and continuously reviewed and executed to ensure the health and safety of licensees’ guests and employees,” the commission’s plan states.

A Brand New Look For Casinos

Under the plan, the commission requires Nevada casinos to limit crowd size. This means limiting crowds to no more than 50 percent of the occupancy limit. For example, if the building code allows for 4500 people, then companies can only permit 2,250 people in.

Casinos also have to put a limit on the people playing specific games. That means:

  • Six players for each craps table
  • Four players at each poker table
  • Four players at each roulette table
  • Three players at each blackjack table

As for how that’s going to happen during a Vegas reopening? It’s up to each casino, but the commission gives a couple of options.

“Licensees may remove every other chair or stool in front of a gaming machine or cover a machine’s bill and ticket validator so that patrons do not use that machine,” the plan says.

Also, in order to operate, casinos will have to assign employees to make sure gamblers don’t gather in groups.

Disinfecting Guidelines For Vegas Reopening

It also may smell a bit different in the casino. In fact, don’t be surprised to sit down at a game and get a strong whiff of disinfectant.

The commission gives a fairly long list of things to be disinfected each time a new customer touches them. That includes blackjack discard holders, cards, card shoes, chairs, chips, dice, Pai Gow tiles, pit podiums, rails, shufflers, toke boxes, and wheels. Dealers also will be required to have hand sanitizer to offer any customer that wants it.

Employees also have to wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds multiple times. First before a shift, then during every break and finally, every time they change their gloves.

As for masks, while they’re not required now, the commission’s plan says if that changes at any point in the future, casino employees will have to wear them at all times.

About the Author

Brian Carlton

Brian Carlton is an award-winning journalist who has covered casinos, the gaming, and finance industries for more than a decade. His work has been published by the BBC and a variety of newspapers across the U.S. He currently writes for Colorado Sharp and