Nevada regulators assess $435,000 in penalties to state gaming operators Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · September 25, 2020 at 7:29 am Nevada’s general fund is now $435,000 richer. State gaming regulators on Thursday approved the stipulated settlements of a handful of disciplinary actions against a handful of casino operators, with all but one of the complaints involving violations under Nevada’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. The largest fine assessed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, though, which was handed down to Boyd Gaming Corp., had nothing to do with the pandemic. Boyd agreed to pay a $300,000 fine involving a November 2019 incident at the company’s downtown Las Vegas Fremont resort. Property officials admitted that security officers employed by the property wrongly detained and accused a customer of theft. The company self-reported the actions of the security officers a month later. “The incident discussed at the Nevada Gaming Commission meeting was an isolated incident that was both unfortunate and regrettable,” Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow said in a statement following the commission hearing. “It is not consistent with our company’s culture, our long reputation as an upstanding member of Nevada’s gaming industry, and our reputation in states across the country,” Strow said. “It does not reflect our values, the way we do business, or the way we treat our guests. We fully understand the gravity of the situation, and we have taken comprehensive steps to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.” Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman John Moran Jr., said he would “reluctantly” support the settlement, citing Boyd Gaming’s “lengthy track record of compliance.” Boyd Gaming Executive Vice President of Operations Steve Thompson told the commission embarrassment “was not a strong enough word” to describe the company’s actions. “The incident should not have occurred,” Thompson said. “Many things went horribly wrong.” The Gaming Commission agreed with the Control Board and assessed five other fines totaling $135,000 to large and small casino operators for violations of the state’s COVID-19 protocols. The incidents ranged from non-enforcement of the requirement that customers wear facial coverings or masks inside gaming properties to a lack of adherence to social distancing guidelines. Two restricted gaming locations agreed to penalties for not turning off their bar top slot machines, as was required on July 10 when Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all standalone bar tops in seven Nevada counties to close. “These settlements approved today reflect a range of violations at different sized properties,” Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan said following the hearing. “The common thread for me in reviewing these complaints is there had been a prior formal notice from the board.” Morgan noted that there had been good signs over the past few weeks of compliance with guidelines concerning wearing facial coverings and social distancing. Prior to Labor Day Weekend, the Control Board had opened 189 regulatory cases statewide relating to non-compliance with the Board’s Health and Safety Policies. The largest penalty was assessed to the operator of the Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip and the Grand Sierra in Reno, a combined $75,000 covering the two properties for violating the state-mandated social distancing efforts designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The Sahara was cited for four instances of non-compliance with social distancing measures, and a three-count complaint was filed against Grand Sierra after state gaming agents – on three separate occasions – observed Grand Sierra customers not wearing facial coverings or masks, as mandated by the state. In the complaint, the gaming agents said Grand Sierra employees did not take any steps to direct patrons to wear facial coverings. Grand Sierra General Manager Shannon Keel apologized “profusely” for the incidents. “Some team members made mistakes, but there are thousands of examples here of how we keep our guests safe,” she said. The other discipline actions were approved with little comment. Waldman Investments, which owns Bowl Incline in Lake Tahoe, will pay $5,000 for not disabling its bar top games on July 10. Slot machine route operator Century Gaming agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to settle a similar complaint involving the Cheers bar in Winnemucca. Hotel Nevada in Ely will pay a $10,000 fine after three employees and seven customers were seen not wearing facial coverings while on the casino floor. The property’s general manager was informed of the violations by state gaming agents, but customers and employees were still seen on the floor without masks. The owners of the C.O.D. Casino in Minden, who also owns Cactus Jack’s Senator Club and Jackpot Crossing, agreed to pay a $30,000 fine for mask violations. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.