Vegas Casinos Almost Back To Normal With Latest Relaxed COVID-19 Rules

Written By Marc Meltzer on May 24, 2021
Las Vegas Strip COVID Rules

Things happen quickly in Las Vegas. Most Vegas Strip casinos are operating at 100% capacity and without plexiglass. These casinos will allow guests who have been vaccinated to enjoy the casino without wearing a mask.

Las Vegas casinos closed for almost two months almost a year ago to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Casinos reopened with limited capacity on June 4, 2020.

This year much of the country started to reopen as people received COVID-19 vaccinations and cases and deaths started to drop. Last week the Center for Disease Control (CDC) updated their face covering recommendation for those fully vaccinated.

“Update that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”

Along with the rest of the country, Las Vegas was quick to follow the CDC recommendations. The new mask recommendation followed increased casino capacity restrictions.

Vegas Strip casino capacity increases

Earlier this month, a few casinos were allowed to open their casino floors for 80% capacity. On May 5, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) distributed a notice to all casinos in the state with the following details: a) how they can return to 80% capacity then b) 100% occupancy on the casino floors.

Vegas Strip casinos are located in Clark County and have different local COVID-19 mitigation plans than most Nevada counties. While much of the state was allowed to move to 100% capacity right away, Vegas Strip casinos had a different plan from Clark County:

“Occupancy Limit: 80% (Increase to 100% once 60% of the eligible population receives first vaccine dose) Social Distancing Measures: 3 feet (Removed once 60% of the eligible population receive first vaccine dose)”

Vegas Strip casinos were also allowed to increase capacity when 80% of employees were vaccinated. The push to 100% happened quickly. The Cosmopolitan offered to pay up to $1 million in bonuses if 80% of the workers received their vaccine.

Thanks to the incentive, the Cosmopolitan was one of the first casinos on the Vegas Strip to allow 100% capacity on the casino floor. The casino also removed all plexiglass from its table games.

Wynn (and Encore) followed shortly thereafter. It only took a few more days for all Caesars and MGM Resorts properties to allow 100% capacity without plexiglass dividers at the tables and slot machines.

Vegas Strip casinos allowing 100% capacity

Today, the vast majority of Vegas Strip casinos are operating at full capacity:

  • Aria
  • Bally’s
  • Bellagio
  • Caesars Palace
  • Cosmopolitan
  • The Cromwell
  • Excalibur
  • Flamingo
  • Harrah’s
  • The Linq
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Grand
  • The Mirage
  • New York-New York
  • Paris Las Vegas
  • Park MGM
  • Planet Hollywood
  • The Strat
  • The Venetian (and The Palazzo)
  • Wynn (and Encore)

Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos properties off the Vegas Strip are also operating at 100% capacity. Circa, The D, and Golden Gate casinos in downtown Las Vegas are also operating at 100%.

Fully vaccinate guests can drop the masks in casinos

There are a few Vegas Strip casinos not operating at 100% capacity yet. Requiring guests to wear a mask is a different story. All are allowing fully vaccinated guests to enjoy their property sans face covering if they choose.

Late last week, the NGCB updated its COVID-19 health and safety directives to follow the new CDC recommendation. Fully vaccinated guests no longer have to wear masks at indoor or outdoor gaming areas.

According to a recent memo from the NGCB, casinos are not required to ask if guests are vaccinated:

“The Board’s agents will not attempt to confirm the vaccination status of patrons. Consequently, unless circumstances change, it is not practical for the Board to attempt to enforce a mask mandate tethered to an individual’s vaccination status.”

Vegas Strip casinos (like most businesses) are using the honor system for face masks. At this time, it appears as though casinos won’t ask guests without a mask for proof that they’ve been vaccinated. Casino guests who aren’t vaccinated should still wear a mask.

If they choose casinos on the Vegas Strip may have mask policies that are more restrictive than the CDC guidance. Given the option, casinos are doing whatever is possible to increase business. That means vaccinated guests may ditch their masks.

Vaccinated guests at Las Vegas casinos may still wear a mask if there’s a concern about being around others without a face covering. Masks will be able to serve another purpose in casinos.

Anecdotally, there are already many more people smoking in casinos. Wearing a mask should help dull the smell for those who have become used to gambling without smokers over the past year. Park MGM is still completely smoke-free for visitors who’d like to ditch the mask and not be smacked in the face by smoke.

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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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