Nevada governor: Bar top slot machines in Las Vegas and Reno to remain closed Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · August 4, 2020 at 7:32 am Bar top slot machines in Las Vegas and Reno will remain closed this week as Nevada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic transitions to a more targeted response model intended to mitigate outbreaks, a shift from the state’s previous phased-in approach. State officials closed standalone bars and bar top areas inside restaurants and taverns on July 10 in order to reduce crowd sizes after the state saw an increase in coronavirus cases. Most restricted gaming locations in Nevada – those with 15 slot machines or fewer – have their games embedded in bar tops. Three of the small rural counties were allowed to reopen last week, but four others – Clark (Las Vegas), Elko, Nye, and Washoe (Reno) – remained closed. In an afternoon news conference in Carson City Monday, Gov. Steve Sisolak said “current restrictions for bars, pubs, and taverns will remain in place” until the first assessment takes place. He didn’t give a time frame for that to occur. “I want to be clear, in no way are we relaxing our mitigation efforts,” Sisolak said. “We are taking a more strategic, aggressive approach that will target this disease where it is spreading and take action to stop it.” Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director, said that the state will use the same three criteria that have been in place since the coronavirus outbreak — data from testing, case rates, and positivity rates. However, there will be a slightly longer timeframe. “This new approach emphasizes communication, coordination, and collaboration,” Cage said. “Overall, what Nevadans need to know is this: the criteria determine a county’s risk level, and the risk level determines the mitigation level.” Restricted gaming can be lucrative in Nevada, with some 2,000 locations operating more than 19,000 games throughout the state. Slot machines in grocery stores, convenience stores, and drug stores were not affected by the closure orders. Nevada taxes restricted gaming locations through quarterly and annual fees per machine, which is far different than casinos, which pay 6.75% monthly on taxable gaming revenue in excess of $134,000. Major tavern operators, such as the Las Vegas-based Golden Entertainment, have seen their gaming machines turned off, even though the company’s more than 60 locations had a collective zero recorded violations of COVID-19 protocols. Smaller Las Vegas tavern and bar operators filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to overturn the governor’s directive. A hearing is set for Thursday. “Shutting down public and economic activity throughout the State is not sustainable in the long term,” Sisolak said. “If Nevadans continue to wear face coverings, as we’re all mandated to do, along with practicing aggressive social distancing, this targeted approach should work and will allow more sectors of our economy to remain open.” As of Monday, there have been 51,227 COVID-19 cases in Nevada, up 970 from the prior day. The state has so far seen 847 deaths from the pandemic. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.