Capacity Limits In Nevada Casinos Could Rise If Employees Are Vaccinated

Written By Marc Meltzer on April 5, 2021

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) penned a rare collaborative notice to casino operators on late Friday evening. The notice encourages casino operators to have their employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination if they want to increase capacity in gaming areas from the current 50%.

The notice signed by J. Brin Gibson of the NGCB and John T. Moran, Jr. of the NGC states:

“Both the Board and Commission urge licensees to be proactive in arranging for vaccination opportunities for their workforces, and to provide effective communication so that all employees that wish to avail themselves of such opportunities may do so.”

Further, the statement says “Prepare to account to the Board on your company’s vaccination efforts if you seek increased gaming floor occupancy.”

The notice includes a variety of options for casino operators to help with employee vaccinations.

  • Paid time off to the staff for vaccination appointments
  • Arranging transportation for employees to public vaccination sites
  • Entering into agreements with pharmacy partners
  • Underwriting private vendors to administer vaccines onsite using a POD distribution system.

The notice also reminds casino operators that smaller private firms may not have the ability to facilitate their vaccination needs.

For the past year, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has been in charge of capacity restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19. That will change on May 1 when local municipalities throughout the state will be in charge of their own restrictions.

Casino capacity restrictions and other mitigation efforts will fall under the guidance of the NGCB.

Casinos started preparing for vaccinations prior to the release

This release wasn’t made public until Friday evening. Nonetheless, casino operators were likely aware of the plans from the gaming regulators. During the week the following casino operators in Las Vegas announced they would open COVID-19 vaccination sites for employees and families:

  • MGM Resorts
  • Caesars Entertainment
  • The Cosmopolitan
  • Wynn Resorts
  • Station Casinos

Frontline casino employees are crucial to visitors returning to Las Vegas. The notice also refers to their importance:

“Hospitality workers, many of which are front-of-house personnel interacting with visitors from around the globe, are critically positioned to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 both within the industry and the community as a whole.”

Beginning today anyone over the age of 16 years old in Nevada is eligible to receive a vaccine. Don’t be surprised when more casino operators make the process of getting a vaccine easier for employees.

Smaller casino operators may not make a splashy company-wide announcement. For example, Circa Resorts told the Las Vegas Sun that it simply “will be complying with all recommendations.”

Already pushing the casino limits

Las Vegas has been pushing capacity restrictions for the past month or so. In addition to warmer weather, visitors have been flocking to Las Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness, spring break, and Easter.

Visitors continue to drive to Las Vegas. There was a 10-mile backup of cars leaving Las Vegas after the Easter weekend. The biggest change for Las Vegas is the increased amount of people flying into Las Vegas once again.

Tourists receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are more comfortable flying than in the past year. The busy airport is leading to higher rental car prices at the airport. Similarly, the lines for taxis and rideshares at the airport continue to grow.

This isn’t only impacting the airport. Between locals looking to go out and the number of people visiting Las Vegas during the weekends, specifically, there’s an increased wait time for rideshare throughout Las Vegas. The rideshare companies are seeing fewer drivers than prior to capacity limits throughout the state.

Similarly, casino bars and restaurants are overflowing with reduced capacity and increased demand. There just simply hasn’t been enough employees on hand to match the number of visitors.

Gaming regulators encouraging casino operators to encourage employees to get vaccinated should help two-fold. Guests will feel even more comfortable visiting Las Vegas as more employees are vaccinated. In theory, this should help reduce the spread of COVID-19 too.

Additionally, detailing efforts on how to vaccinate staff members should help casino operators increase the number of employees working. In turn, when capacity limits are increased the casino companies will have enough people working to meet the demand.

Photo by AP / Mark Humphrey
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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