LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Increasing capacity on Nevada’s gaming floors will happen as casinos vaccinate employees, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) said in a letter Friday. Also to be taken into consideration are Las Vegas’ tourism economy and the influx of new variants of coronavirus.
Gaming floors are limited to a 50% capacity. Starting May 1, control of capacity limits will move from state officials to the gaming board. Also on May 1, local governments will have control over limitations for most businesses, except gaming.
“Key to this consideration is the status of vaccination penetration within the state’s hospitality workforce,” the NGCB’s chair and the NGC’s chairman wrote in a joint letter to licensees. “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. Such viral surges are a continuing threat to the economic health of the gaming industry and greater State, as they threaten the hard-fought efforts undertaken over the last year to safely reopen.”
The letter states the rise of COVID-19 variants and a low vaccination rate among hospitality workers is prompting it to err with caution.
“As such, at this time, consideration by the board to increase gaming floor occupancy will only be taken in cases where licensees have taken measurable and material steps to vaccinate, and thereby, protect their workforce, visitors, and the community,” the letter said.
The letter also said “positive initiatives” it has seen undertaken by some licenses includes offering paid time off for employees to get a vaccine and working with pharmacies to hold vaccination drives on-site.
“The board will take action against those that place short-term gain in violation of current emergency directives or board health and safety standards above the well-being of its workforce,” the letter said.
While gaming floors will remain under the authority of the board, in terms of capacity limits as of May 1, other areas on a gaming property will fall under the purview of local authority.
A statewide mask mandate will remain in effect.
The pandemic decimated Nevada’s hospitality industry with tens of thousands of employees losing their jobs last year.