Nevada casinos limited to 50% occupancy upon reopening

Casinos in the state of Nevada will be forced to limit their occupancy once the statewide lockdown is lifted.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has released details on the procedures for the reopening of casinos once the state-wide lockdown has been lifted.

This news comes after Illinois’ gambling regulator made the decision to extend the closure of the state’s casinos. At the time of writing, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order will last until 15 May, but this may be extended to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Procedures for reopening

According to the NGCB’s announcement, casinos must create and put into place a plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and other infectious diseases at their venues.

In order to help prevent the spread of the virus and increase the distance between players, casino occupancy limits will be cut in half.

Player limits will also be set for table games. Blackjack tables will be limited to three players, craps tables will be limited to six players, roulette tables will be limited to four players and poker tables will be limited to four players per table.

The NGCB said: “Licensees’ plans should detail how compliance with this occupancy limit reduction will be achieved, which may include, without limitation, head counts by security personnel, utilization of a licensee’s existing surveillance systems and making use of a licensee’s slot accounting system to aid in monitoring the number of patrons on the casino floor.”

On top of this, venues must “ensure that the floor plan for gaming machines creates proper social distancing between patrons.”

The regulator also covered restricted licenses, which are businesses whose primary source of revenue is not gambling but still offer gaming machines. These venues will also be limited to 50% occupancy and must ensure that they create space between players at their gaming machines.

Nevada’s casinos must also detail how they will sanitize their machines and tables. Casinos will also have to ensure that people do not congregate in groups while in their facilities and social distancing must be observed in queues.

Coronavirus and the US gambling space

The US gambling industry has been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In March, all commercial casinos and most of the country’s tribal gambling establishments temporarily closed their doors. On top of this, all major sports have either been cancelled or suspended due to health concerns.

In March, the US Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which created a $2tn stimulus package to provide support for people, businesses and states that have been affected by the pandemic.

In late April, the Small Business Administration (SBA) amended the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an element of the CARES act, allowing gambling businesses to receive support from the program.

The PPP would make $349bn in loans available to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These loans are forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used to pay the costs of payroll, rent, utilities or mortgage interest.

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