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Guests no longer given leeway

With COVID-19 cases hitting record levels in the United States and several states seeing alarming spikes in their numbers, two of the country’s largest gambling companies have decided to take a major step in protecting those who step foot in their casinos. This week, both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International announced that all guests and employees are required to wear protective face masks while inside any of their properties.

While Las Vegas casinos have garnered the most attention, the policies mandate masks at every Caesars and MGM property in the United States. Casinos that have yet to reopen will be required to comply when they do welcome back guests. According to the American Gaming Association, 782 of the nation’s 987 casinos are back in business after the pandemic shutdowns.

Caesars CEO Tony Rodio said in statement: “….the scientific evidence strongly suggests that wearing masks and practicing social distancing may be the most important deterrents to spreading COVID-19 from person to person.”

Both companies have said that if guests are seen without masks, they will be asked to put one on. Those who refuse will be asked to leave.

Nevada strengthens its regulations

The state of Nevada has also implemented stricter health and safety regulations in the last couple weeks. On Wednesday, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that face masks are now mandatory in all public spaces, whether publicly or privately owned, as of Friday. This, of course, includes casinos. It is not known if Caesars and MGM knew this was coming or if the timing of their decisions on the same day as the governor’s announcement was purely coincidental.

Exceptions will be made for people with medical conditions that make it difficult to breathe and children under 10-years-old.

“I don’t know why or when protecting our health and our neighbors’ lives became a political, partisan or even philosophical decision,” Governor Sisolak said. “For me it’s none of those … it’s a medical necessity, a human obligation and…. it’s good for business.”

Though Nevada still ranks in the bottom half of the U.S. in terms of pure numbers, the upward trend in new COVID-19 cases in the Silver State has been alarming. Before casinos reopened on June 4, the most new cases in one day that the state had seen was 238. Since then, that figure has been eclipsed a dozen times. The state is setting new records or coming close setting new records daily at this point.

Lack of responsibility forced actions

Upon reopening three weeks ago, only employees were required to wear masks in Nevada casinos. The governor’s office and the casino companies themselves encouraged guests to don face protection, but it was not mandated.

In all the excitement surrounding the casinos finally being “open for business,” it was readily apparent from the jump that patrons could not be bothered to protect themselves or each other. Videos and photos from the first week after reopening showed almost no gamblers wearing masks, even when in crowded indoor settings.

Even Governor Sisolak failed to wear a mask when out.

“Too many Nevadans have had the same lapse of judgment,” he said. “Every hour there are photographs, or videos, posted of large unmasked clusters of people….clusters of potential COVID19 spread.”

Last week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) began requiring that all people playing table games wear masks if the tables did not have plexiglass barriers installed. That obviously was not enough, so now masks are mandated everywhere statewide and both Caesars and MGM are requiring masks at every casino around the country.

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