With Nevada’s casinos on the verge of reopening, the most vital order of business for them will be ensuring guests feel comfortable and safe upon reentering their doors.
A few mega properties on the Las Vegas Strip, such as Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts properties have all recently unveiled their new health and safety protocols in the era of COVID-19.
That’s been a beneficial move for casino operators, as the transparency allows guests to have more peace of mind when it comes to exactly what Las Vegas properties are doing to welcome them back amid the coronavirus pandemic. By stepping up to make their plans public, those properties will likely see guests flocking to their resorts first.
But, while the Nevada Gaming Control board is mandating every licensee, from megaresorts on the Strip to gas station convenience stores that offer slot machine games, to turn in their reopening plans, it seems that the Control board plans on keeping them confidential.
This can definitely be problematic in Las Vegas making its long-awaited return, especially when the public’s worries would ease given a full public disclosure of health and safety reopening plans.
Releasing Reopening Plans Would Benefit Everyone
For one, fully disclosing reopening plans benefits those who wish to return to Las Vegas once the shutdown order is lifted by taking a load of worry off of their shoulders, especially during the current, fragile COVID-19 climate.
The more thorough and detailed operators are in making sure their properties stand up against an ever-present virus, the more guests will feel confident in setting foot in those properties doors.
Not only that but sharing best practices can set the example for how other properties across the Las Vegas Strip should handle reopening. Those best practices so far seem to be rearranging casino floors to support social distancing guidelines set by the CDC, conducting non-invasive thermal screenings of guests and staff at casino entrances, and ramping up cleaning and sanitation of high-traffic areas and frequently contacted hard surfaces.
By pooling these predictably effective protocols, it will make Vegas stand up even stronger against the virus.
Nevada Revised Statutes is Allowing Board to Treat Reopening Information as Confidential
While we applaud the casino operators who have gone public with how they plan on reopening during this uniquely challenging time, it’s unfortunate that Control Board is reluctant to make reopening plans readily available to the public.
It appears as though a specific section of Nevada Revised Statutes, specifically NRS 463.120, is the reason behind allowing the pressing information to be kept under wraps. Under NRS 463.120, the board and the Nevada Gaming Commission is able to treat such information that it receives as classified.
However, this is troublesome given the fact that asking for reopening plans isn’t the same as asking casino operators to reveal their trade secrets or disclose any information that would give away a competitive edge.
What this means is that it’s up to casino companies whether or not they want to make their reopening plans public, as it’s not being enforced by the Gaming Control Board. It would be a smart move on the part of casinos to do so because it’ll convey to the public, especially a public that wants to return to their specific property, that they’re being proactive in their approach to reopen safely and securely.
Governor Sisolak Could Override the Statute
While the Gaming Control Board is within their right, per the Nevada Revised Statutes, to keep reopening plans confidential, Gov. Sisolak could issue an executive order that would override it.
If there’s anything we’ve seen clearly these past two months in Las Vegas, it’s that Governor Sisolak holds the power to effectively shut down the city, as he did when he mandated the order for casinos to close to stop the spread of COVID-19.
If he can order casinos to shut down and reopen, surely by the same force of law could he require the Control Board to release reopening plans.
Casino Reopening Measures (What We Know So Far)
For the properties who went public with their reopening measures, they’ve provided a lot of insight into what Las Vegas will look like when it reopens amid the same outbreak that shut it down.
For one, we know that table games will look a lot different, with nearly half of the number of gamblers allow per table reduced.
Casino employees will also be required to wear facial masks during their entire shift. While guests will be encouraged to wear masks, it’s not being enforced.
Elevators will only allow four people on at once. Speaking of elevators, those buttons will be sanitized frequently, as well as any other hard surface that gets frequent, direct contact, such as escalator rails and slot machines.
HVAC systems will also be monitored routinely for maximum efficiency. Some properties, like Caesars Palace, announced they will be disabling every other slot machine and removing its stool to encourage social distancing.
Thermal screenings will also be a big one, as it will allow for every entrant to be quickly screened for internal temperature. Incident protocols are also being put into place, should an individual test positive for COVID-19 while on site.
In the weeks leading up to Las Vegas’ hopeful return, it’s been helpful and encouraging to see casino operators release their reopening health and safety measures. It gives us a good idea of the state of Sin City we’ll all be walking back into.
We also know that not all properties will reopen once they’re given the green light to do so. It seems like slow and steady is going to win the race in getting back to the Las Vegas we all know and love.
We hope that more properties come forward with their reopening plans so the public can gain more confidence in returning to Las Vegas. Do you think that Governor Sisolak should enforce the Control Board to release reopening plans?
We’d love to hear your thoughts below.