Nevada Governor Cuts Back on Casino COVID-19 Restrictions

Since reopening last June, casinos in the state of Nevada have seen several COVID-19 restriction changes. First, casinos were allowed to open at 50% capacity. Then last November, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that restrictions needed to be rolled back due to an increase in positive cases. Casinos then started offering services at 25% and have been doing so for several months. However, starting on Monday, all of that will change. This week, Sisolak announced that casinos can return to higher capacity in phases and indoor dining restrictions will also be loosened.

Details of the Changes

On February 15, casinos as well as other facilities like gyms and churches can move from 25% capacity to 35%. By March 15, the businesses operating at 35% can increase to 50%. Then by May, local communities will be in charge of their own regulations.

For dining, restaurants and bars can move up to 35% starting on Monday indoors. For outdoor dining, there will no longer be a restriction on capacity. Reservations will also be a thing of the past starting next week. Six people will be allowed per table, instead of the four that is currently allowed.

Staying Strict

Sisolak has remained quite strict when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. From the very beginning, he has made decisions in order to keep employees as well as travelers to the state and residents safe.

In Las Vegas, the city relies on tourism to survive. Over the past few months, casinos have struggled to make ends meet due to a lower number of tourists in the area. With conventions and meetings on hold, there are no longer large groups of people traveling to Sin City.

The hope with these new restrictions lifts is that players will start returning and conventions can begin again, even in small numbers. This would create more travel in the area which would produce spending on dining, drinks, entertainment, casino gaming, and hotel stays.

Each casino will be required to meet certain guidelines as they have in the past in order to stay open as COVID-19 is still an issue. Masks will be worn on-site along with social distancing protocols still in place. We do not expect anything to change regarding the protocols of the casinos for health and safety. However, the number of people allowed inside will certain be larger.

Casinos and other businesses must remember that COVID-19 case counts have to remain low in order for the governor to keep the restrictions as is and continue to ease up. If people are not wearing masks at the venues and the case count rises again, then Sisolak will waste no time in putting the tougher restrictions in place.

It will be interesting to see how the casinos handle this lift of restrictions and if it will help to bring in more business, especially to the Las Vegas area. Without more travelers coming in, the casinos will continue to lack the earnings needed to see a recovery from months of in-operation and fewer services.

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Conor Stack
Conor is one of our main writers on USGS focusing on a wide range of industry coverage across sports, casino and poker.