Governor: Nevada’s 50-person capacity limit on gatherings could be increased Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · September 17, 2020 at 7:00 am Gov. Steve Sisolak gave the state’s casino industry a possible ray of hope Wednesday about increasing the current 50-person capacity limits on gatherings. During a conference call on the state’s response to COVID-19, Sisolak said he was asking the state’s coronavirus task force to review the current limits, which could impact economic and social activities, “from church gatherings and business meetings.” Sisolak said the evaluation is ongoing. The capacity restrictions on gatherings have kept the resort industry’s convention and meeting facilities closed. Entertainment venues, both large and small, have also been kept dark due to the limits. Conventions and business gatherings are the tourism industry’s lifeblood during the middle of the week. However, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said July marked the city’s fourth straight month with zero convention attendees. Most of the major tradeshows and conferences that take place in Las Vegas have canceled or rescheduled their events until 2021, including the National Broadcasters Association, the Consumer Electronics Show, the Global Gaming Expo, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), and the National Finals Rodeo. “There is a 50-person cap on every gathering,” Sisolak said. “We’re going to review that number. We’re looking at our capacity limits.” Sisolak said the task force will consider capacity issues for the upcoming NASCAR race in Las Vegas. Casino floors, operating under COVID-19 health, safety, and cleaning guidelines, are limited to 50% capacity restrictions and social distancing protocols. The governor also hinted that the task force could decide on reopening bars and bar tops in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, “soon.” The areas inside standalone bars, taverns, and restaurants normally contain the slot machines that comprise the vast majority of Nevada’s restricted gaming business – locations with 15 or fewer slot machines. The bar tops have been closed in Clark County since July 10 due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, and many locations have reverted to standalone slot machines or sit down “buddy bars.” Nevada has 2,451 restricted gaming locations that collectively operate some 17,600 slot machines. Clark County alone accounts for more than 1,600 of the restricted gaming businesses, with more than 13,200 slot machines, according to the Gaming Control Board. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores, many of which also have restricted gaming slot machines, were not affected by the governor’s directive. On Monday, the state said cumulative COVID-19 test positivity is at 11.44%, slightly down from its recent peak of 11.63% on Sept. 4. The seven-day average daily test positivity is 9.24%, which is continuing to trend downward. Sisolak said those trends are the reason why Nevada was taken off the travel advisory list this week for New York. “The COVID numbers are moving in the right direction. This did not happen by chance,” Sisolak said. “It’s because of the sacrifice Nevadans have made. By wearing face coverings and social distancing we have made progress. We have learned in the past six months we can’t let our guard down.” Sisolak, however, warned that expects Nevada’s COVID-19 numbers may rise due to high visitation and lack of social distancing or mask-wearing on the Strip during the Labor Day weekend holiday. “I expect there to be an increase in positive cases from Labor Day.” He also expects an increase from the two Trump events in Henderson and Minden. He also suggested the two campaign events hosted by President Donald Trump – in Henderson and in Minden – will also result in spikes in coronavirus cases. Sisolak sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday seeking clarity on the state’s efforts to follow recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He criticized Trump for holding large public gatherings that violated state emergency directives. Sisolak asked the Task Force to explain how to reconcile the recommendations from the president’s public health experts with the president’s own contradictory actions in our State. “Nevadans deserve much better from the Trump administration, and with the President’s blatant disregard and lack of accountability for his own administration’s professional medical advice, I would ask what additional support Nevada can expect to receive from the federal government to ensure it can effectively combat this deadly virus now that the President has undoubtedly risked an increased spread in two of our communities?,” Sisolak wrote. “I urge the administration to consider both the health and economic consequences of this type of unsanctioned mass gatherings and would appreciate better collaboration in the future,” he wrote. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.