In a spirited and informational meeting on Thursday afternoon, the Nevada Gaming Control Board officially enacted their regulations for the reopening of the Nevada gaming industry. These rules will be in force for every major casino operation on The Strip in Las Vegas, in the historical downtown Fremont Street area and for the more than 400 other casino properties and the 1000-plus “restricted licensees” that have 15 or fewer slot machines in other locations throughout the state.

Local Fire Regulations to Determine Occupancy Limits

One of the biggest obstacles regarding any reopening of the Nevada gaming industry would be how many people would be allowed in the property. The NGCB somewhat decided on this issue, levying a dictate that the properties should only have 50% occupancy when opened. This puts the official numbers that would be allowed in on the local fire departments and building inspectors, who set these numbers according to their inspections.

For those who read the prior proposals from the NGCB regarding the table games and poker and were concerned about the numbers, that proved to be well-founded. The NGCB went with the numbers that had many up in arms, including the following numbers:

Three players per blackjack table
Four players per roulette table
Four players per poker table
Six players per craps table

During the public comment phase of the hearing, poker player Richard Gilliam spoke up. Citing how poker is usually played, he informed the NGCB that four-handed poker was not profitable for neither the casinos nor the players, which could significantly hurt bringing some rooms back. “I understand the need for reducing the number of players as a safety measure, but these regulations are meant to strike a balance between visitor safety and…economic viability,” Gilliam stated during his time on the floor. He advocated for a six-handed approach to poker, but the NGCB did not make an immediate decision on his suggestion.

Opportunity for Other Advocates to Speak Up

Outside of the gaming arena, there were plenty of other organizations and people who spoke up for their points of advocacy. Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the secretary-treasurer of Culinary Workers Union Local 226, spoke up for the members of the union in appealing for more guidelines for health reasons. “Culinary union members want to go back to work,” Arguello-Kline said, “but they are worried about what awaits them inside the casinos when they go back.” A guest room attendant of Arguello-Kline’s organization emphasized this point, stating “I interact with guests frequently throughout the day…I am scared of touching dirty bedding, towels or trash.”

There was even a statement made from those who wish to ban smoking in the Nevada casinos. Appealing to health reasons regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, University of Nevada-Reno assistant professor Jennifer Pearson and Christine Thompson of the Nevada Cancer Coalition in Reno pushed for board members to include a smoking ban in the reopening regulations for the Nevada casino industry. This was unlikely as the NGCB didn’t make any moves towards such a ban when they first issued their proposed reopening regulations and they chose not to add it to the regulations after the public hearing concluded.

The bigger issue for the Nevada casino industry is this: if they are open, what do they do if nobody comes? Airline travel is down more than 90% in some areas of the country and the hotels in the state are just beginning to book rooms (currently, The Bellagio is accepting reservations after June 1). With the restrictions on the table games, will the players return? Or will it be some time before Nevada’s gaming industry can recover from the two-month shutdown?


  1. Anonymous says:

    What I think would be a great idea is to have larger poker tables.

  2. Thomas Davidson says:

    Have larger & longer poker tables.

  3. codibear tomich says:

    If there are 3 players per blackjack table, there shod be six at a poker table. Clearly whomever made this rule for poker, either doesn’t understand how it is run/played or wants Poker killed in Vegas.

  4. Don says:

    Smoking kills add in the virus and its could be even worse.They don’t care about the employees that have to breathe it.Casinos say we have the best air filtration systems money can buy lol.

  5. KAREN says:

    If 6 people can be at a craps table why only 4 at a poker table?

  6. Karen says:

    Smoking should be not be permitted, smokers fine mist goes into the air when they blow out and cigarette butts sitting in ashtrays could hold viruses

  7. TheRoadWarrior says:

    Continue with 9-10 players per table but just require players and dealers to wear masks while at the table.

  8. Brad says:

    Need to continue playing poker at 9-10 per table – just make masks mandatory for players and dealers while seated at the table.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Put up sneeze guards like they are proposing in LA and have 9-10 people tables as normal. Don’t kill poker.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Poker will be dead for 2020

  11. Michael M Gilbert says:

    Once again we have non-business people like doctors making economic decisions. This is why the economy will tank for years.

  12. L Stevens says:

    If smoking is banned the casinos will lose another half of its patrons putting down to 25% of returning people the ability to smoke is the biggest determining factor on where myself and many friends and family go for get together. Non smokers are not the only ones with rights.

  13. Sam says:

    If smoking is banned in every casino, as it is in many states and countries, then it is no longer a factor in determining which casino to go to.

    A smoker’s “right” to blow smoke everywhere is the same as a gun owner’s right to shoot everywhere without regard to who might get hit.

  14. TC Shade says:

    If casinos don’t advertise a date they will open then OF COURSE THE PEOPLE CAN’T MAKE PLANS TO COME TO VEGAS…….DUH! Only by going directly to the Wynn site I was able to find a TENATIVE DATE of May 22. Tentative? Are you NUTS? We can’t get airline tickets on a TENTATIVE DATE. SO VEGAS QUIT BEING STUPID. YOU ADVERTISE FIRM DATES THAT YOU ARE OPEN AND WE WILL COME. AND ALL OF YOU QUIT BEING AFRAID OF THE “BOOGIE MAN.” We all will die sometime – car wreck – disease – suicide – GET THE HELL OVER IT. LET’S LIVE. ALL LIFE IS A “CHANCE.”

  15. JoAnn says:

    They should ban smoking in casinos and have designated smoking areas outside…smoking and the virus do not mix well..more people will get respiratory problems

  16. Deborah says:

    Leave Vegas the way it was. When you travel with your spouse or group of friends you don’t want to sit 6 feet apart at the tables or stand 6 ft apart around a crab table. They didn’t address the slot machines. If you are with someone you like to sit next to each other to talk and drink. Regarding workers, they took chances everyday prior to COVID-19. People walk around with colds, flu symptoms, walking pneumonia, and other diseases and no one complained. Wear gloves and masks. The changes they are planning will hurt the economy of Las Vegas, Laughlin, basicaly the state of Nevada. Stop trying to control the public and make their life decisions. If people don’t want to be around a lot of people they will stay home.

  17. Martin says:

    Locals who make up most of the players in the limit games mostly show up in the morning for the bonuses usually ending around 2:00 PM will non play 4 or 6 handed (too many blinds). Some no limit players may have a problem with 4 but most would have no problem with 6. Four to a table could bring those players to LV who cannot play on-line poker for money in their states and play poker in their rooms. Alternatively, many other states could legalize on-line poker for money and/or like Texas and California drive the expansion of live in state games. I liked the idea of bigger tables that could safely fit 6. Interesting how 4 at a table would impact the WSOP this fall.

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