After nearly two months of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting quarantine, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has come out with minimum standards to allow for the reopening of casinos in the state. In some cases, the standards will be extreme in that it will not allow for the usual “fanfare” that goes with the casino experience. In other cases, it will be difficult for the games to turn a profit without massive changes.
Standards of Cleanliness Set
In the document obtained by Poker News Daily, the NGCB recounts the different Nevada statutes that designate what the casinos must do to be able to reopen. Citing the legal jurisdiction given to it under NRS 463.0129(1)(d), the actual statute that allows the NGCB to exercise its control over the casino industry in the Silver State, the NGCB said that they “remain resolute in ensuring that gaming operations in this State do not compromise the health and safety of Nevadans.” To do this, the NGCB lays out the some of the rules that casinos must meet before they can reopen in the state.
One of the first is that the individual casinos must submit a plan to the NGCB no less than one week before the casino intends to reopen for business. Many casinos are, at this moment, trying to get their casinos in shape, cleanliness wise, for such a reopen of their hotel and casino properties, so this isn’t out of the ordinary. The NGCB is vehement on the fact that they will not allow a casino to reopen without this plan in place.
The new regulations are quite extensive on the cleanliness of the casinos once they reopen. The employees are to be trained on new cleaning procedures for the property and for their own person and, if they are experiencing any symptoms (or see a customer or fellow worker exhibiting the symptoms) that are “associated with COVID-19,” that they are to report it to supervisors and/or stay home from work.
Tough Standards on Gaming
The NGCB has stated that the plans submitted by the casinos also need to ensure that they are putting social distancing measures in place on the gaming floor. For machines (video poker, slots, and others), the casinos are supposed to make sure that there is at minimum a “one machine” space between patrons of the casino. This means that, if a person is playing a particular machine, that the machines on each side of said player are unoccupied.
For table games like blackjack, roulette and others, the number of players involved in the game will be limited. The NGCB breaks down the standards for some games in this manner:
Craps tables: six players
Roulette tables: four players
Poker tables: four players
Blackjack tables: three players
Once again, the casino’s plan submitted to the NGCB will have a distinct plan as to ensuring the cleanliness of the equipment. Such things as the table games themselves, rails, chairs, dice, card shoes, shufflers, roulette wheels, Pai Gow tiles, pit podiums, blackjack discard holders, and toke boxes will have to have a new standard of cleanliness, otherwise the casinos will not be allowed to open. Much like the slots, the table games will not allow for large groups to gather at a table.
In addition to these new rules, the casino itself will be limited upon reopening. The casinos will be limited to half their occupancy limit. Those casinos will have to monitor this situation to ensure that they aren’t violating the regulation.
What Does it All Mean?
The new regulations from the NGCB are very thorough and spell out the exact rules that the Nevada casinos will have to meet before they can open their doors. What will be interesting to see is what happens in the table games. In many situations, the casinos aren’t going to make a great deal of money if they offer low stakes options for some of their casino games. For example, a casino isn’t going to offer $5 blackjack because they won’t be able to make any money. The new minimums may be at least double that ($10) or perhaps even more.
Poker is perhaps hurt the worst on this situation. With only four players allowed per table (plus the new distancing between tables), the poker rooms aren’t going to be able to sustain themselves with such limited action. This also doesn’t even broach the issues of poker tournaments, which are greatly dependent on putting as many “butts in seats” as possible to build the prize pool.
The new regulations are in place to allow for a safe reopening of Nevada’s casino system, on which the state is greatly dependent. But the new regulations also may significantly hurt some of the very games in the casino that are key to their operations.