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Eagerly anticipated decree

Nevada casino enthusiasts finally receive a target date for reopening. On Friday, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that if the state’s current positive trends in the COVID-19 pandemic hold, casinos will be allowed to welcome guests next Thursday, June 4.

Phase 1 of Nevada’s reopening plan, called Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery, began just over two weeks ago. It allowed people to return to outdoor spaces and permitted small business and select retail to open. Strict occupancy limits, social distancing measures, and sanitizing practices have been required to be in place. Casinos are part of the upcoming Phase 2.

Governor Sisolak will officially announce the Phase 2 start date in a Tuesday press conference, as long as trends remain consistent through Memorial Day weekend. The Nevada Gaming Control Board will also meet on Tuesday to receive updates from local health and safety officers about how gaming properties are tackling COVID-19 preparedness.

Casinos must receive approval to open

Assuming the governor does announce the June 4 date, casinos are not allowed to just go ahead and open for business on that day. They must first submit their plans to the Control Board seven days before reopening. There will still be safety controls in place. Guidelines such as “diminish personal contact and increase the level of disinfection in high-use areas” must be followed.

“Without a thoughtful and measured reopening of Nevada’s gaming industry, all of the work that Nevadans have done to fight the spread of this viral pandemic will have been for naught,” read a statement from Sisolak’s office. “The Gaming Control Board remains resolute in ensuring that gaming operations in this State do not compromise the health and safety of Nevadans.”

Even as restrictions are beginning to relax slightly, Governor Sisolak is still encouraging state residents to wear masks when in public, practice social distancing, and avoid gatherings of more than ten people.

Caesars confirmed reopening plans

The day before the governor’s press release, Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that the Flamingo and Caesars Palace will be its first Las Vegas casinos to reopen. The status of other properties is to be determined.

“We are hopeful that the country’s continued progress in addressing COVID-19 and business conditions will allow us to reopen more of our properties and bring back more of our colleagues as it is appropriate to do so,” said Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio in Thursday’s press release.

Both the Flamingo and Caesars palace will make their hotels, outdoor pools, table games, slot machines, and some dining available to guests right away. Spas, bars, buffets, and valet parking – services where social distancing is the most difficult – will remain closed.

On the gaming floor, slot machines have been arranged in such a way so as to facilitate social distancing and hand sanitizing stations should be readily available. Blackjack, pai gow, and carnival table games will only seat three customers. Four players can sit at roulette and poker tables. Craps tables, usually the largest in a casino, will have a maximum capacity of six players.

Most other major gaming companies have either made similar announcements or at least hinted at their plans to reopen. Many have also begun booking reservations on their websites, though the earliest dates were before the state’s June 4 target.

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