The Nevada State Gaming Authority, NGBC (Nevada Gaming Control Board), has updated the corona safeguards for Las Vegas casinos. From now on, there is a mask requirement for everyone who wants to go to the gaming table. Gambling experts now fear that the risk of robbery could increase. Are the concerns justified?
Just two weeks after Las Vegas reopened, the NGBC, the local gaming regulator, has tightened casino safety regulations. With immediate effect, a mask is required at all gaming tables where there are no protective barriers. In addition, the updated regulations state that all establishments must provide masks to customers if they need a mask.
In order to further minimize the risk of infection, the casinos have also been obliged to reduce occupancy by 50 percent. In particular, player limits apply to table games. In blackjack, the number is limited to three players per table. Six players are allowed at the craps table, while a maximum of four players are allowed at tables for poker and roulette.
In addition, all casinos must ensure that the slot machines are set up in such a way that there is adequate social distance between guests. Specific guidelines that must be followed were not specified at this point, but the supervisory authority suggested that the chairs be removed from the machines. In this way, more space can be generated, which would make it easier to comply with the distance regulations.
Restricted licensees – that is, companies whose main source of income is not gambling but which are allowed to offer slot machines – must follow similar distance rules on slot machines. These arcades, too, may only have a maximum capacity of 50 percent. In addition, concerts, sporting events such as boxing matches and other live events are initially only allowed to take place under exclusion of the public.
Shortly after the casino shutdown was lifted on June 4th, the stringent regulations were still used as guidelines. Wearing personal protective equipment was a recommendation by the NGBC. The establishments themselves were encouraged to develop and implement appropriate security plans for the period after the reopening.
The licensees’ plans should detail how compliance with the occupancy limits is to be ensured. This includes the use of security personnel, the use of the existing monitoring systems and the accounting system. The plans also had to include details of how to disinfect slot machines and tables and avoid queues.
The casinos must continue to implement the plans to reopen. Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts and Wynn were among the first to introduce their own concepts. All operators were under enormous pressure from the Corona crisis and wanted to reopen their casinos as soon as possible.
Are protective measures ignored?
It is no coincidence that the gambling supervision is tightening the corona protective measures, because on the day of the reopening it became clear how difficult the situation is to control. Queues were already forming in front of some casinos at midnight, and distance regulations were barely observed. Many visitors no longer seemed concerned about the potential Covid-19 threat.
The casinos themselves are said to have largely adhered to their own security plans and requirements of the authority. The employees all wore face masks. Gaps were set up between the gaming tables and slot machines and dividing discs were installed. According to media reports, however, only half of the guests wore a mask, and there were jostling at the gaming tables.
That the guests behave so carelessly is surprising, because Nevada was badly hit by the corona virus. Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, still has the highest number of infections in the state. The last 6,923 infections were counted, while 8,935 cases were registered in the whole of Nevada, according to the Department of Health. On the day it reopened alone, the state counted 429 deaths.
Researchers at the University of Las Vegas are currently assuming this. The experts fear that criminals could increasingly exploit the new mask requirement for their own purposes. The hypothesis has already proven itself once. The New York N
New York Casino in Las Vegas was robbed just a week after reopening. The perpetrator wore a respirator and looted almost $ 5,000.
The person could be identified as William C. At 2 a.m. he had handed a cashier a note asking for cash. With a handle in his pocket, he indicated that he was armed. Due to the protective mask, he is said to have looked inconspicuous in advance. He was later arrested in his room at the MGM Grand and was already known to the police for several criminal offenses.
Anthony Cabot of the University of Las Vegas explained that the casino security systems depend primarily on the evaluation of the surveillance cameras. The gambling expert and professor at Boston College, Richard McGowan, sees the casinos confronted with a new challenge – the wearing of masks expands the spectrum of criminal activity. It remains to be seen whether there will be any further incidents.