Added in Casino News on May 7, 2020 by Jim Murphy

The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved new guidelines for casino reopening that include lower capacity, social distancing and upgraded cleaning protocol. The guidelines were approved Thursday and will apply to Nevada’s 400 plus gaming properties. Guidelines were issued for non-restricted licenses (eg: big casinos) as well as more than 1000 restricted licensees with 15 or fewer slot machines (eg: 7-11, grocery stores, bars).

Aside from a limited amount of public comment the guidelines were approved without much fanfare. They definitely didn’t make much of an impact on commission members who approved the guidelines unanimously. Several anti-smoking kooks wanted to use this opportunity to foist their pet agenda onto the casino floor. Fortunately, the proposal for a casino smoking ban went nowhere. The most interesting public comment came from poker player Richard Gilliam who asked the commission to reconsider their ‘social distancing’ guidelines for the poker room suggesting that to have only four players per table would be bad for players and the casinos:

“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 enterprise economic viability. Therefore, I ask the commission to reconsider this limitation and increase the number of players at each poker table to a minimum of six players.”

Gilliam is probably right but the commission didn’t comment on his request nor would I expect it to go anywhere.


The most significant changes will be based on the need to mandate social distancing within Nevada’s gaming properties. The casino capacity will be cut in half to 50% of the total determined by local building and fire codes. The expectation is that slot and video poker machines will be reduced as well, most likely set up so that every other seat will be unoccupied. Table games will be limited to three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table and four players at poker tables. Existing surveillance and slot accounting systems can be used to estimate occupancy.

The new health and safety policies were created by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and passed over to the state Gaming Commission for approval. Licensees are required to provided a detailed reopening plan at least seven days before their planned relaunch. Neither restricted or unrestricted properties will be required to enforce masks for players or employees though companies could mandate it. Properties will be required to provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to employees and players.

In addition to upgraded cleaning and disinfection of all public gaming areas properties must ensure that customers don’t gather in large groups in sportsbooks and other gaming areas. Social distancing must also be enforced in theses areas. Reduced capacity and social distancing will also apply to restaurants and bars. Nightclubs and dayclubs will remain closed until further notice.

About the Author

Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on gambling theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice.

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