Las Vegas Strip resorts will be allowed to increase their capacity limits to 80% starting May 1 under a new directive issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board late Friday afternoon.
Under the order signed by Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson, casinos throughout the state were allowed to operate within their respective county’s COVID-19 mitigation plans.
Clark County in Southern Nevada, which includes the Las Vegas Valley, downtown Las Vegas, and Laughlin, is allowing businesses to increase capacity from 50% to 80% with social distancing measures reduced from six feet to three feet.
Clark County’s plan will allow businesses – including casinos – to increase capacity to 100% once 60% of the area’s eligible population receives at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Social distancing measures will be removed when under the same vaccine protocol.
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last month he was turning the COVID-19 vaccine mitigation efforts over to county officials, but the Gaming Control Board had oversight of the casino industry.
Clark County’s plan was approved by the state, but the plan proposed by Washoe County, which includes Reno and Sparks, was not deemed accurate and casinos will remain at 50% capacity with six-foot social distancing limits even after May 1.
According to the Control Board’s order, casinos in most of the smaller, rural counties will be allowed to increase capacity to 100% without any social distancing requirements, including Douglas County, home to South Lake Tahoe.
Nevada gaming regulators said they wouldn’t relax the 50% statewide COVID-19 capacity restriction on casino floors throughout the state until a large portion of the gaming industry’s hospitality workers had been vaccinated against the virus.
The Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission made the announcement through an unusual joint memorandum signed by both Gibson and Commission Chairman John Moran Jr., just prior to Easter Weekend.
Since that time, several Las Vegas casino operators said they would provide free COVID-19 vaccinations for employees, as part of the effort to inoculate frontline gaming workers.
In-house clinics have been launched by MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resort, Las Vegas Sands, Red Rock Resorts, Golden Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The Control Board said in its order casinos will have to continue to comply with the state’s baseline mitigation measures, including the statewide mask and face-covering requirements.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.