Updated: Nevada casino industry expected to reopen on June 4 Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 22, 2020 at 8:00 pm Nevada’s casino industry, shuttered for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could reopen on June 4, Governor Steve Sisolak said in a statement late Friday afternoon. The announcement comes as several casino companies have announced re-opening plans under the health and safety protocols now established for Las Vegas Strip resorts, Northern Nevada casinos, and the Las Vegas locals’ gaming market. On Tuesday, the state’s Gaming Control Board will hold a workshop hearing with a number of health and safety experts involved in managing Nevada’s response to COVID-19, including the state’s director, hospital officials from Reno and Las Vegas, and several first responder representatives. The hearing could provide additional insight into how Nevada plans to reopen the state’s multi-billion casino industry – the nation’s largest – which has been silenced since March 18 in an effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic. “Pending the evaluation of trends in Nevada’s COVID-19 data, along with the results of the Gaming Control Board meeting on Tuesday, the Governor has set a target date of June 4, 2020, for reopening Nevada’s gaming industry,” the governor’s office said in a statement. More than 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos in 43 states closed in March. In the past two weeks, roughly 160 gaming properties have reopened in 15 states. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak The reopening of Nevada’s casino market, which produced $12 billion in gaming revenue in 2019 and is home to some of the industry’s most iconic properties along the Las Vegas Strip, would mark a milestone in the post-pandemic recovery. “Nevada’s opening would signal the rebirth of its No. 1 industry (and) help bring jobs, revenue, and tourism back to our state,” Global Market Advisors Partner Brendan Bussmann said Friday. “It would be the start of what may be a long recovery, but a start we have been waiting for some time.” Nevada’s casino closures have left several hundred thousand casino workers unemployed and all but eliminated Nevada gaming and non-gaming revenues for going on nine weeks. Caesars Entertainment, which announced Thursday it would initially reopen Caesars Palace and the Flamingo Las Vegas, along with the High Roller Observation Wheel and several retail and dining outlets along the Linq Promenade, welcomed the announcement. “We’re excited to welcome our guests and employees back to our properties,” the company said in a statement Friday. “We intend to comply with all state directives with a goal to create a comfortable work and guest environment with enhanced health and safety protocols.” In an email, Wynn Resorts said that they “applaud Governor Sisolak for his decision to target June 4 for opening resorts. Because of his careful, science-based approach to containing the virus, Nevada is now ready to open its economy and get people working again. We look forward to working with our regulators as we move forward.” The governor’s office said it has been monitoring the first phase of the reopening of Nevada’s economy – which began on May 9 – analyzing data trends and evaluating potential plans for Phase 2. “If Nevada’s COVID-19 data continues to reflect positive or consistent trends through the Memorial Day weekend, the Governor will announce a Phase 2 reopening date” at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, “along with business reopening and statewide continuing operation guidelines.” Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan said Wednesday that she scheduled the workshop, which will be streamed live on a yet-to-be-determined virtual platform, “to ensure that the board has the best information available about how local health and public safety officials that have jurisdiction over Nevada’s two largest resort destinations have responded to COVID.” Morgan declined to comment Friday. In the statement, the governor’s office said, “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.” Nevada gaming regulators have approved a series of health and safety guidelines that gaming operators must follow in order to reopen properties, and operators are required to submit their own health and safety plans to the Control Board before reopening properties. Several casino companies – Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Caesars, Station Casinos, and Boyd Gaming – have released all or portions of those plans publicly. The Gaming Control Board’s guidelines call for a resort casino to be limited to no more than 50% their maximum occupancy capacity and requires that the property increase the space between their slot machines and limit the seating at table games to three players for blackjack, six for craps, four for roulette, and four for poker. Casinos are also to follow state and medical requirements for the usage of medical masks and other personal protective equipment and should make those items available for resort guests and employees. It is up to the casino to decide if masks will be required; most Nevada casinos have, to this point, said they will require employees to wear masks. As with resort casinos, occupancy inside the smaller locations will be reduced by 50%, while social distancing measures in taverns will limit the number of bar top slot machines that can be used at a given time. Sisolak’s office said the board’s policies “aim to diminish personal contact and increase the level of disinfection in high-use areas, and the board expects full compliance with these policies by each licensee.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.