Grand Sierra in Reno facing disciplinary action for violating COVID-19 safety guidelines

August 11, 2020 11:26 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
August 11, 2020 11:26 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports

The Grand Sierra in Reno is the third hotel-casino in Nevada to be hit with disciplinary action by Nevada gaming regulators for violating provisions of the state’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

In a three-count complaint filed Friday, the Gaming Control Board said gaming agents – on three separate occasions – observed Grand Sierra customers not wearing facial coverings or masks, as mandated by the state.

In the complaint, the gaming agents said Grand Sierra employees did not take any steps to direct patrons to wear facial coverings.

The Grand Sierra is owned by Los Angeles-based Meruelo Group, which also owns the Sahara in Las Vegas. Gaming regulators filed a two-count disciplinary complaint against the Strip resort last Monday alleging four instances where the property violated state-mandated health and safety guidelines implemented to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The disciplinary action against the Reno casino marks the sixth complaint the Gaming Control Board has filed against licensed state gaming operators for violating the health and safety guidelines implemented after a 78-day shutdown of Nevada’s casino industry ended on June 4. The complaint against the Sahara was the first action taken against a Strip property.

Last month, the Control Board said it opened 156 regulatory cases statewide relating to non-compliance with the protocols and policies implemented by the agency and approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan does not comment on pending disciplinary matters.

Disciplinary action has filed against the Hotel Nevada in Ely, a small casino in Minden, the slot route operator Century Gaming and a bowling center in Lake Tahoe.

The charges against Grand Sierra began on June 19, when a gaming agent saw patrons at two separate gaming tables not wear facial masks. On July 2, a gaming agent observed at least 43 patrons not wearing facial masks and at least three Grand Sierra employees walking past the customers without directing the patrons to wear masks.

On July 31, gaming observed at least 34 patrons not wearing facial masks. Once again, employees were observed interacting with customers but not requiring them to wear face masks. On the same day, at least 50 customers were queuing for hotel elevators, but not following social distancing guidelines.

In addition, the Grand Sierra did not have any floor markings or signage to alert guests to social distancing guidelines.

Also on July 31, a group of customers participating in a Grand Sierra marketing promotion neither wore face coverings nor practiced social distancing.

In a statement, a Grand Sierra spokesperson said the resort will work to comply with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

“As stated in the Nevada Gaming Control Board filing, we acknowledged and immediately corrected conditions related to state-mandated mask-wearing requirements and social distancing protocols inside the resort,” according to the emailed statement. “Prior to reopening (on June 4), we worked with health experts to develop our own stringent health and sanitation protocols. We routinely review these protocols with team members to ensure compliance across the resort.”

The Grand Sierra and the other gaming companies cited for violating COVID-19, face monetary penalties for the violations.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.