- Nevada’s gaming industry was shut down for over two months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Many properties have since reopened with heightened health, safety and social distancing protocols.
- Las Vegas casino operators have their own policies about employee testing.
Nevada has been hit hard by a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. As a result, various entities of the Silver State’s government have responded with stricter measures. The state is now subject to a mandatory face mask policy which was issued by Governor Steve Sisolak on June 24. The Nevada Gaming Control Board had already required masks at all table games at state casinos and they’ve emphasized their authority to discipline licensees if they don’t enforce compliance of the mandatory face covering order among customers and employees.
Caesars Entertainment has been one of the most proactive of all Southern Nevada casino operators since the gaming industry reopened on June 4. They’ve now taken another step that is something that all of their competitors should do as well–they’re requiring all Clark County employees to get tested for COVID-19 this month. A company spokesman said that the decision was made in light of the upswing in positive coronavirus cases in Southern Nevada:
“We thought mandatory testing would be a good way to identify employees who might be positive for COVID-19 without knowing it (i.e. asymptomatic) and wouldn’t realize they could be spreading the virus at work. The number of cases was much lower when we started reopening properties on June 4.”
Employees will be removed from the work schedule and subject to other disciplinary action if they don’t get tested by July 17. Clark County is Nevada’s most populous and home to Las Vegas, Laughlin, Henderson and Pahrump. Caesars operates ten properties in Clark County: Bally’s, Caesars Palace, The Cromwell, Flamingo, Linq Hotel, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Rio, Harrah’s Las Vegas and Harrah’s Laughlin. At least four Caesars employees have tested positive for COVID-19 already with two at the Flamingo, one at the Linq Hotel and one at Caesars Palace. The employee at Caesars Palace would eventually die from the virus.
This begs the question ‘Why don’t all Las Vegas casino operators require their employees to be tested?’ the same way. Some do though they’re not as transparent about the process. Most required testing before gaming properties reopened on June 4. Wynn Resorts tested all employees before they were allowed to return to work. Company spokesman Michael Weaver said that Wynn has maintained a consistent program of rotating testing ever since:
“For example, 500 employees went through the testing rotation (Tuesday), This is an ongoing program.”
Las Vegas Sands employees were also tested before returning to work. They’ve also offered testing to third parties including family members according to spokesman Keith Salwoski:
“To provide further peace of mind, complimentary testing was also offered to household members, with more than 6,000 additional tests performed. During this time, testing was also extended to many third-parties, like our gondoliers and employees of many partner restaurants.”
Sands employees in ‘frontline’ positions are required to get tested monthly and every staff member is offered the opportunity to be tested every month. The company also does their own contact tracing to track down potential sources of COVID-19 infection.
Every major Las Vegas casino company issued their own health and safety plans prior to reopening. Most tested employees before the gaming industry reopened for business in early June though it’s unclear if they have ongoing policies for continued testing.