Casinos, other gaming establishments to follow new county rules on occupancy, social distancing on May 1

The Nevada Gaming Control Board announced on Friday that it will allow gaming establishments to follow capacity limits and social distancing requirements set by their counties when the state turns pandemic health and safety decision-making over to local governments on May 1.

Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and other gaming establishments in Clark County will be allowed to open at 80 percent capacity, instead of the current 50 percent capacity required under the state’s rules, and social distancing will be reduced from six feet to three feet. Gaming licenses in much of rural Nevada, meanwhile, will be allowed to open at 100 percent capacity with little to no social distancing.

For now, gaming establishments in Washoe County will be required to remain at 50 percent capacity with six-foot social distancing as the county has not yet brought forward a plan that has received the required support of several local entities, including the Washoe County Health District and the city of Reno. The county, however, plans to come up with a new plan that can pass muster as soon as possible so it can reopen further on May 1.

Gaming licensees will also be required to follow any baseline mitigation measures set by the state, including, notably, the statewide mask mandate. Gov. Steve Sisolak said the facial covering requirement will remain in place for the foreseeable future as the state reopens businesses further and continues to vaccinate residents.

Although capacity and social distancing requirements will be set at the county level, casinos, as nonrestricted licensees, will still be required to adhere to additional health and safety requirements established by the Gaming Control Board, including reporting cases of COVID-19 at their properties to the local health authority, training employees on pandemic protocols and regularly disinfecting slot machines, cards, chips, dice and other frequently touched objects. 

The new notice from the Gaming Control Board also notes that gaming licensees will be allowed to submit a request to waive any of their county’s occupancy limits or other mitigation measures starting May 1, though they will be required to “demonstrate the licensee’s measurable and material steps to vaccinate its workforce.” 

Requests will be required to “include the licensee’s detailed commitment to its obligation to vaccinate its workforce,” until a goal is reached or a certain amount of time has elapsed, the notice says.

Such requests must be submitted to the board no later than Tuesday at 5 p.m.