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Top 10 COVID-19 changes at Las Vegas casinos

8 Jun 2020

By Dan Ippolito
Last week, Nevada casinos reopened to the public after being given approval from Governor Steve Sisolak.

However, the scenes inside these casinos and resorts are far from what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic shut things down in mid-March, as the properties were required to follow a new set of guidelines.

Here we take a look at some of the protocols and perks that have been implemented at Nevada casinos.

10. No resort fee
The news is not all negative. When you stay at a Las Vegas hotel you are usually hit with the resort fee at the end of your bill, a charge that can be as high as $50 per night or more at some resorts. However, SAHARA Las Vegas is one property that is getting rid of that resort fee for a limited time.
The hotel-casino will waive all fees for room reservations made until Tuesday, 30 June 2020. The offer is valid for reserved stays beginning 4 June 2020 through 31 May 2021.

“Las Vegas is America’s playground,” said Paul Hobson, SAHARA Las Vegas Senior Vice President and General Manager. “We know how much everyone has missed traveling and we’ve missed entertaining guests at our resort. Removing the resort fee for our first promotion is our way of welcoming guests back to the city and thanking them for their patronage.”

9. Free parking
It remains to be seen if other casinos will follow suit and kill resort fees, but in another compromise to try and entice visitors to return, many Las Vegas casinos have done away with parking fees, another aggravating “tax” that has become popular in recent years.

Caesars Entertainment announced that it will be suspending any fees for self-parking at its properties. So far, Caesars Palace, Flamingo Las Vegas and Harrah's Las Vegas Casino & Hotel are the three Las Vegas properties operated by Caesars that reopened last week.

MGM Resorts International is also involved in this movement of free self-parking at the currently reopened Bellagio, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, New York-New York Hotel & Casino and The Signature at MGM Grand.

Other Las Vegas casinos that have implemented free self-parking include The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort.

8. Poker rooms
Many poker rooms were not a part of the big reopening for Nevada on 4 June. Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Palace did not open a poker room that day to work their way back into fully reopening.

That being said, poker isn’t impossible to find.

South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa and The Orleans had live poker available to players upon reopening last Thursday. The casinos are still abiding by social distancing guidelines , which limits poker to four players per table and requires the cleaning of chips often.

The Las Vegas Strip saw a poker room open just a day after casinos began reopening, when The Venetian Las Vegas welcomed players into the poker room again on 5 June.

7. Limited number of players at table games
Poker isn’t the only game in town with limited players. Fans of table games are going to have a different, yet still enjoyable, experience as casinos work their way back to a sense of normalcy.
Caesars Entertainment is following the safety measures put in place by the state’s gaming board and also established some other rules.
  • Three players per blackjack/pai gow/carnival game table
  • Four players per roulette/poker table
  • Six players per craps table
  • Guests will not be able to congregate behind players at a gaming table.
  • Where possible, procedures have been adjusted to allow only dealers to touch cards.
  • High touch gaming items (dice, chips, etc.) will be routinely disinfected, and cards will be refreshed more frequently.
  • Dealers will provide hand sanitizer to every arriving player.
6. Buffets
One way that casinos and resorts are working to limit risk and ensure safety of guests is by holding off on reopening buffets.

Red Rock Resort, Casino & Spa has a very popular buffet in Nevada, Feast Buffet. Even though it is a hot spot for eating, Red Rock did not include the buffet in the original phase of reopening.

Many resorts are approaching these times very cautiously and doing so by phased reopening. While many buffets, including Feast Buffet, are not opened to the public currently, they will eventually open back up when owners feel it is safe to do so, although it may be an entirely different experience with servers bring the food to your table.

5. Plexiglass
Adding a sense of safety for players and team members are a crucial factor in reopening all of these casinos in Nevada.

Another step taken by casinos is the use of plexiglass barriers where they are appropriate. For example, Bellagio placed these barriers at craps tables so that they separate each player and avoid any unnecessary contact and exposure.

The Bellagio, along with other resorts such as Plaza Hotel and Casino have them placed at the check-in desks if guests do decide to choose in-person check-in rather than mobile check-in.

4. Limited capacity
To ensure that social distancing guidelines are being followed, several Nevada resorts are reducing the maximum capacity for the time being.

Arizona Charlie's Boulder, Arizona Charlie's Decatur, Lakeside Casino & RV Park and Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Gambling Hall reopened to the public on 4 June. All four of these Nevada properties have added entry point screening to ensure a maximum capacity of 50% or less. Basically, each person entering the resort will be counted for and when half of the capacity is hit, no other guests will gain entry until someone has left.

3. Slot machines
As players know, slot machines are by the hundreds even thousands throughout Nevada casinos, but to remain six feet apart, many casinos have decided to turn off every other slot machine to keep social distancing in place.

This is one of the new protocols being implemented at Wynn Las Vegas. Some of the other regulations regarding slot machines are having hand sanitizing stations in the slot machine area and have each machine cleaned more often than they were prior to the pandemic.

This will keep players from being on top of each other and have them feel more comfortable and safer while they gamble.

2. Temperature checks
One safety protocol that is being used by almost every, if not all, resort is temperature checks for guests and employees.

At Caesars Entertainment properties, guests who are checking into the hotel will undergo a temperature check before entering. If a guest has a temperature higher than 100.3 degrees then they will not be allowed in.

Treasure Island, which also reopened on last Thursday, is having temperature screenings for anyone trying to go into the resort.

This will prevent anyone showing a temperature symptom from gaining access and spreading it to people inside.

1. Masks/face coverings
Since states across the U.S. have gone into quarantine a couple of months ago, wearing masks in public has become the new norm for the near future. That is still the case in Nevada casinos, although it is not a requirement.

According to MGM Resort International’s Seven-Point Plan, “All MGM Resorts employees will be provided and required to wear an approved mask when on our properties. We will also strongly encourage guests to wear masks in public areas and offer masks to any guests who need one, free of charge. Gloves will continue to be worn by employees who require them to do their jobs, such as food handlers and employees who clean public areas.”

This is similar to Caesars Entertainment’s policy as well. Employees are required, while guests are encouraged to wear them and can be provided a mask if needed.

In addition, many resorts are offering free masks at check-in or as guests enter the property.
And, yes, even dancers at some casinos are following the “employees must wear masks” rule, albeit in a more creative way:
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