Gaming Control Board rolls out new rules: 'Things are not back to normal'

by Administrator

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic. Things are not back to normal,” Sandra Morgan, the Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told me Thursday morning.

But apparently some gamblers think they are. And that's what worries Morgan., one of the top gaming regulators in the State of Nevada. The Gaming Control Board is the investigative arm of the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Masks are required for casino workers. They're "encouraged," but not required for casino guests.

So in the two weeks that gaming has been reopened, “based on first-hand reports, and again, responses and reports back from our agents, something more had to be done. Because patrons were not wearing masks, and at the end of the day it's about protecting employees and dealers specifically. They're standing there for an hour or more at a time,” Morgan said, referring to the employees manning the tables.

Wednesday night, the GCB required gamblers wear masks at table games. Not all tables: just those without partitions - the ones that protect gamblers from each other and the dealer, from them.

“But what about the rest of the workers,” says Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the head of the local Culinary Union, which represents thousands of workers.

Arguello-Kline says if masks aren't mandatory everywhere for everybody, workers are at risk.

“What about the bartenders serving the drinks right there at the bar and they have people come in there with no mask,” Arguello-Kline asks.

Morgan tells me the GCB is not contemplating requiring customers to wear masks at all times, yet.

Our gaming reopening has been a work-in-progress. Resorts have spent big bucks on cleaning, training, testing and protection--all to protect both worker and customer. Social distancing is encouraged, but Strip room attendant Diana Thomas says not all customers get it.

“Basically, they're not caring. I try to stay safe and hopefully they would. You really can't tell the customers what to do,” Thomas says.

But Sandra Morgan can tell gaming what to do. Casinos currently are limited to 50 percent capacity.

“We want to be able to increase that but if patrons are not going to comply with these guidelines, if licensees are not going to try to strongly encourage individuals and require these patrons to comply with these guidelines, we won't be at 50 percent to 75 percent, or 100, we're going to be going the opposite way,” Morgan tells me.

“And I would hate to see us revert back to what, unfortunately, some of our adjoining states are doing by having to completely close. That would be an absolute disaster for the State of Nevada. I would never want to see that happen,” Morgan says.

Morgan says Gaming Control Board agents will be busy.

“We are going to be significantly more active this week in contacting those licensees who are not complying with our health and safety guidelines,” she says, adding, “licensees who are not complying will be notified this week.”