The bright lights of Las Vegas had been shining for over eight decades. However, they were finally dimmed in March 2020 after the coronavirus (COVID-19) shut down the city.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gave the shutdown order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This move closed the city for over two months.
The coronavirus threat hasn’t completely subsided. However, many Vegas casinos have reopened anyways.
They’ve also rolled out new measures in Plexiglas and self-cleaning slot machines to minimize COVID-19 dangers. I’ll cover more on Vegas’ answers to stopping the coronavirus below.
Plexiglass Will Keep Slots Players Divided
Slot machine players have sat next to each other for years with no barriers. However, COVID-19 now makes people leery of being within a few feet of each other.
Screaming Images, a Vegas-based company that works with the NHL’s Golden Knights and NFL’s Raiders, came up with a solution—Plexiglass.
Screaming Images normally focuses on design and installation work. For example, it created huge Golden Nights jerseys and draped them over New York-New York’s replica Statue of Liberty.
However, it has added acrylic dividers to its agenda in recent months. Specifically, the company has developed dividers that don’t fog up easily and can be quickly cleaned.
Furthermore, these Plexiglass pieces don’t features screws. Casinos can install and remove them without damaging slot machines.
El Cortez is one casino that’s utilizing Screaming Images’ dividers. The downtown Vegas hotel likes what they see so far.
Assuming everything goes well, this company might sell their acrylic dividers to other types of business. For example, Vegas restaurants could benefit from safeguarding customers with Plexiglass as well.
Slot Machine Dividers That Clean Themselves
SafePlay UV has the same general idea as Screaming Images when it comes to protecting gamblers. It too plans on introducing dividers to casinos and other Las Vegas businesses.
The key difference, though, is that their slots dividers will clean themselves. Darryl Rosenblatt and a team of engineers came up with this concept and started SafePlay UV.
They feel that dividers must go beyond just blocking germs from nearby parties. Instead, this team believes that the partitions should also clean up afterward too.
We utilize ultraviolet light in a shrouded bar that cleanses the surface of the partition whenever a person gets up. So basically, they have a clean area to play in every time they get up from the machine. Absolutely no germs can grow on the surface of the partition and while it’s cleaning it’s actually generating ozone, which has sanitary effects as well.
Meanwhile, Rosenblatt doesn’t feel like Plexiglass by itself is effective enough. He calls the warm gaming terminals “petri dishes” for germs and notes that “an army” would be needed to clean the barriers.
Other Safety Measures in Vegas Casinos
Most casinos haven’t just stopped at Plexiglass or self-cleaning slots dividers. They’ve rolled out other measures to reduce customers’ chances of getting the coronavirus:
- Only a half or one-third of slot machines are running.
- Only every other table game is available.
- Staff members take gamblers’ temperatures at the door.
- Dealers and customers must wear masks.
- Staff frequently wipes down slot machines, door handles, and elevator buttons.
Of course, all of these measures also cause issues for casinos. Jim Allen, President of Hard Rock casinos, notes that gambling establishments bear a major financial burden:
It’s important to focus on safety; it truly is, but I sincerely feel there are those who do not have a clue as to the economic challenge the coronavirus’ is creating.
Some casinos are enforcing a policy that requires guests to stand 10-15 feet apart. Additionally, guests and employees need to wear masks.
Difficulties With COVID-19 Safety Measures
Casinos have already taken a financial hit due to the coronavirus. However, money isn’t the only problem that they’ll face coming out of the shutdown.
Here are dilemmas that casinos face when trying to keep customers from getting COVID-19:
- Identifying masked customers that may be on the self-exclusion list or banned from casinos.
- Slots friends/couples who wish to sit together without Plexiglass separating them.
- Keeping up with sanitizing chips, money, and slots/video poker buttons.
- Dealing with the masses that don’t know or don’t abide by the mask-wearing rule.
- Complying with all gaming jurisdiction demands.
- Scanning customers for temperature (if implemented).
- Covering the cost of guests’ “amenity bags,” which contain hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and button-touching pointers.
- Operating at limited capacity with regard to table games and slot machines.
- Paying additional staff to keep up with the cleaning efforts.
The sheer manpower needed to decontaminate everything is taxing on casinos. They have to diligently clean chips, elevator buttons, table rests, and many other things on properties.
Casinos must also ensure that they thoroughly follow every protocol set forth by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. If this means providing Plexiglass barriers, then casinos will need to set up every necessary divider.
Gambling establishments are also running at limited capacity. Of course, they’ll struggle to make as much revenue when only operating half or one-third of their games.
Regarding amenity bags, many casinos are passing out items to help slow the virus spread. These bags, however, increase the heavy costs that gambling establishments have already endured.
The temperature checks will look for customers who are 100.4 degrees or higher. Anybody who hits this temperature will be turned away and advised to visit the hospital.
Do These Safety Measures Ultimately Work?
Gov. Sisolak didn’t close down the state’s biggest drive of tourism and tax dollars on a whim. He did so because crowds of people increase the chances of the coronavirus spreading.
Therefore, Las Vegas has a possibility for outbreaks here and there as it slowly creeps back to business as usual. After all, nearly 4 million people visit Sin City every month.
Plexiglass, self-cleaning dividers, masks, and are only safeguards that will slow the spread. They’re not going to completely stamp out any chance of COVID-19 infections.
Casinos fully realize this fact. They’re merely hoping that the outbreaks aren’t too bad, and they can claw back to normal over the coming months/years.
So far, large department/grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Meijer, and Target have escaped any major catastrophes. Of course, Las Vegas casinos operate differently from large chains.
The guests don’t go in and out every half hour. Many stay for days or even weeks and eat, sleep, and gamble on the properties.
That said, the casino gambling industry will experience some struggles in keeping those visiting Las Vegas safe. However, they may at least curb new coronavirus cases by being diligent with safety practices.
Sin City’s economy is entirely dependent on tourism revenue. Therefore, it has been hurt worse than any other major American city due to COVID-19.
Vegas resorts are desperate to get back to normalcy. They’ve rolled out a number of measures to keep guests safe while reopening.
Nobody knows for sure how well Las Vegas will do at stopping the coronavirus spread as casinos become operational again. One thing is for sure, though: resorts are willing to roll the dice and take their chances given the grim economic climate.