Any increase in the number of customers allowed onto gaming floors depends on the effort to provide casino workers with COVID-19 vaccinations, according to Nevada gaming regulators.
On May 1, the Nevada Gaming Control Board will have the authority to set casino floor capacity limits. The current state-mandated capacity is 50 percent.
Gaming regulators sent a notice to licensed casino operators on April 2, saying state authorities will look at the effort to vaccinate hospitality employees when deciding whether to boost the capacity limit.
The notice also came with a warning that casino licenses are a revokable privilege, not a right.
The three-page notice was signed by J. Brin Gibson, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and John T. Moran, Jr., chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The notice states that the “status of vaccination penetration” in the casino workforce is key in bumping up the gaming floor capacity.
“Hospitality workers, many of which are front-of-house personnel interacting with visitors from around the globe, are critically positioned to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 both within the industry, and the community as a whole,” the notice states.
The notice points out that contagious COVID-19 variants associated with places such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil are an added threat.
New viral variants and a relatively low degree of vaccination penetration within the hospitality workforce drives the Board’s current approach rooted in caution,” the notice states.
The document from gaming regulators adds that the decision to increase gaming floor occupancy will only happen when casinos “have taken measurable and material steps to vaccinate, and thereby, protect their workforce, visitors, and the community.”
Casino On-Site Vaccinations
Gaming regulators will take action against licensed hotel-casino operators that place “short-term gain” above “the well-being of its workforce,” the notice states.
The resorts are urged to provide paid time off for employee vaccination appointments and to help in arranging transportation to vaccination sites. The notice also urges casino licensees to underwrite on-site vaccinations.
Some gaming companies already are providing on-site vaccine clines. These include MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Station Casinos, Wynn Resorts, and the Cosmopolitan.
‘Stable’ Positivity Rate
Nevada tourism officials are hopeful the nationwide vaccine rollout is easing the public’s concerns about traveling. The Las Vegas economy has been in a slump for a year, in part because of the steep decline in airline travelers to and from McCarran International Airport. The airport is just east of the Las Vegas Strip at the southern end of the resort corridor.
Officials also have said tourists will feel more confident in visiting Nevada when the the state’s coronavirus numbers are under control.
Over the past 14 days, Nevada’s positivity rate has been 4.2 percent. In mid-January, the rate was over 21 percent.
Beginning April 5, every Nevadan age 16 and older will have access to a COVID-19 vaccination.
Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director, told KLAS-TV that health officials are not seeing the number of coronavirus cases decline, but added that “the trend is currently very stable overall.”
Since the March 2020 onset of the coronavirus pandemic, 5,260 Nevadans have died of COVID-19 complications
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