Nevada gaming regulators want to know how many of the state’s frontline casino industry employees want to receive a vaccination for COVID-19 and the Gaming Control Board is asking gaming operators to survey their workforce.
The agency issued a notice to nonrestricted gaming license holders last week to complete a Licensee Workforce Vaccination Survey. Casino operators are collecting both a company’s information on how many frontline workers deal directly with customers and their willingness to be inoculated.
Frontline casino employees are now included among essential workers in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy. Gaming Control Board Chairman Brin Gibson said in an email the agency wants to provide state and county health officials with as much information as possible regarding potential vaccine distribution.
The survey, Gibson said, “is intended to effectively and efficiently gather aggregated numerical information about Nevada’s gaming workforce.” Information on casino employees, he said, was critical in helping state and local vaccination program leaders in their overall planning for the COVID-19 distribution process.
“The survey is explicit in directing that no personally identifiable information or protected health information be included in the survey results and that employers should not collect this type of private information in developing responses to survey questions,” Gibson said.
Gov. Steve Sisolak last week announced the new vaccine plan that would distribute doses to essential workers and priority segments of the economy – which includes frontline gaming industry employees.
Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said moving the hospitality workforce up in vaccine eligibility was “welcome and encouraging news” that could help repair the state’s damaged tourism community.
“Protecting the frontline members of Nevada’s economic engine sends a clear message to visitors and meeting and convention organizers that Nevada is the world’s safest travel and tourism destination,” Valentine said following Sisolak’s briefing.
Nevada’s casino industry suffered through a 78-day shutdown that ended on June 4. But the state’s tourism market has been slow to return due to lack of airline travel and canceled conventions and meetings in Las Vegas.
Through 11 months, Nevada gaming revenues are down 34.5% from 2019 and Strip gaming revenues are down 42.6%. In Las Vegas, visitation is down 54.5%, which includes a 72.6% drop in convention and meeting attendance.
Timing as to when gaming and tourism employees could receive the vaccine was uncertain.
“Administration of vaccine to individuals within this group will occur as vaccine program leaders receive adequate vaccine doses and when state and county public health leadership conclude it is appropriate according to the prioritization regime outlined in Version 3 of the State Vaccination Playbook,” Gibson said.
On Monday, a vaccine distribution center inside the convention space at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas was scheduled to open. The location is operated by Southern Nevada’s University Medical Center. Around the country, sports stadiums, arenas, and other non-medical high-profile locations have set up facilities in connection with health authorities to distribute the COVID-19 vaccinations.
It’s unclear if other Las Vegas Strip resorts will join in the effort. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, was being considered for a vaccine distribution center.
The Gaming Control Board wants the employee information from casino operators submitted by Thursday, calling compliance, “mandatory.”
In the notice, the Control Board stated the gaming industry was deemed part of Nevada’s “critical economic infrastructure and that a widespread vaccination of the industry’s workforce was “essential to the health, safety, and prosperity of the industry itself, its workforce, and to state and local government.”
Gaming and tourism employees are to be asked three questions:
- At this time, do you feel that you have enough information to make a decision regarding whether or not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
- What additional information, if any, would MOST increase your willingness to be vaccinated?
- How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you?
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.