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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Nevada casinos will remain closed as state begins gradual reopening plans

1 May 2020

By Gary Trask
Days after major Las Vegas Strip properties began accepting reservations for mid-May and releasing guidelines for a much anticipated reopening from a calamitous COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on Thursday officially extended his stay at home order until 15 May.


In addition, the Democratic governor confirmed that casinos will remain closed at the start of Phase I of his newly released “Nevada United Roadmap to Recovery,” along with bars, strip clubs, malls, large sporting events, large in-person places of worship and concerts.

“Here’s what I can tell you today, gaming will not be opening at the start of Phase I,” he said at Thursday’s press conference.

Phase I, titled “Battle Born Beginning,” begins “on or before” 15 May and allows stand-alone retail stores to reopen with employees and customers wearing face coverings. There will also be a “gradual reopening” of restaurants and “personal care businesses,” but with strict guidelines.

Effective today, there will be an “initial easing of restrictions” on outdoor activities, such as golf, tennis and pickleball, and “more flexibility for retail establishments to offer curbside pickup.”

As for casinos, which have been closed since 18 March, the governor said all final decisions on “how gaming establishments will reopen in the state of Nevada will be determined by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”

“They will be working closely with local health authorities and medical experts,” he added.

In the 28-page “Nevada United Roadmap to Recovery” document, three paragraphs were dedicated to “Gaming.”

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) is responsible for requiring all establishments where gaming is conducted and where gaming devices are operated be controlled and assisted to protect the public health and safety of Nevada’s residents.

As a result, the GCB will be issuing a policy for nonrestricted licensees (casinos) requiring them to submit a reopening plan in accordance with the GCB policy. For the smaller gaming properties with 15 or fewer machines, the GCB will issue a policy and require these establishment to acknowledge they will be in compliance prior to reopening.

The purpose of the Nevada Gaming Control Board policy is to ensure proper notification of new operational requirements and to mitigate and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for all employees, patrons, and other guests. In consultation with the Office of the Governor, as well as federal, state, and local health officials, the Board has created policies to diminish personal contact and increase the level of sanitation in high use areas, and expects full compliance. All final decisions on how gaming establishments reopen in the State.


Last week, the Gaming Board issued a “Policy Memorandum,” a listing 18 detailed steps and procedures casinos must take before being considered for reopening.

“The Gaming Control Board is committed to the safe reopening of Nevada’s gaming industry, and will assist licensees where needed to reopen as efficiently as possible while complying with applicable gaming statutes, regulations, and policies. A safe, thoughtful, and efficient resumption of gaming operations in this State will help both Nevada and its residents recover from this pandemic,” said Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan.

Earlier this week Treasure Island and Circus Circus Hotel Casino - Las Vegas, two Las Vegas Strip properties privately owned by Phil Ruffin announced in its websites that they would reopen on 15 May, subject to change, but with yesterday’s news from the governor’s office that date seems highly unlikely.

When the day comes that casinos can indeed open their doors, MGM Resorts International acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle announced on a quarterly conference call with analysts on Thursday that he expects Bellagio and New York-New York Hotel & Casino to be the company’s first two properties to reopen on the Las Vegas Strip.
 
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