- Nevada has been hit hard by a spike in COVID-19 cases.
- Gaming companies have made health and safety protocol a priority for both employees and guests.
- Nevada OSHA has reported a 66% compliance rate among Southern Nevada businesses.
In most places the face mask is now part of everyday life. Many states and cities require their use in public places and even where not compelled by law to do so many businesses require that customers wear them. The majority of businesses large or small have required their use by employees since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The casino industry in Nevada and elsewhere is no exception. In fact, gaming companies have put forth some of the most stringent and detailed health and safety standards of any industry.
In Nevada, they’ve become ubiquitous at casinos and related businesses. Governor Steve Sisolak issued a mandatory face mask policy for all Nevada residents and visitors on June 24 and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has emphasized the mandate in their social media postings. Gaming licensees are subject to disciplinary action from the Nevada Gaming Commission if they don’t enforce the facial covering mandate for employees or guests.
According to Nevada’s Division of Industrial Relations Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance is improving but there is still more work to be done. An initial survey released on July 3 indicated that only 49% of businesses were in compliance with the state covering mandate which Sisolak called ‘disappointing and unacceptable’:
“To those businesses operating in violation of the directive by not implementing safe social distancing and face covering protocols, you’re not only jeopardizing people’s health but you’re also jeopardizing your fellow businesses, your industry, and our overall economy.”
“To the businesses who are complying, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of all Nevada. You’re protecting our businesses, our health, our jobs, our economy and your industry.”
Sisolak has yet to comment on the most recent findings from Nevada’s OSHA which shows an improved rate of compliance. In Southern Nevada (including Las Vegas) their findings revealed a 66% compliance rate for the use of facial coverings. This is based on 921 initial field observations which also indicated 84% compliance in Northern Nevada. In the most recent audit on Friday there was 82% compliance in Northern Nevada and 75% in Southern Nevada.
COMPLIANCE AT GAMING PROPERTIES VARIES
The OSHA survey revealed additional information about compliance at gaming properties. Bars and the casino floor had an 80% compliance rate while pools showed 40% compliance. Restaurants and lounges had a 50% compliance rate when visited on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon.
Although the OSHA report didn’t single out any gaming companies for non-compliance they did single out one for outstanding performance relative to health and safety precautions:
“We observed that Stations Casinos were by far the best in Las Vegas. Not even close, as their attention to health and safety measures were terrific and very noticeable compared to the rest of the properties we visited. Caesars Entertainment is also stepping up as well with their enforcement of masks worn by employees with the possibility of termination if they are not wearing them along with their mandatory employee COVID-19 company-paid testing they recently announced.”
Several casino companies have made failure to wear a mask a fireable offense. Caesars Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands have made it known that not wearing a mask is a big deal. Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and that “the failure to wear your mask at work will be grounds for termination.” Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and company spokesman Keith Salwoski gave a similar message:
“The wearing of face masks is a condition of employment at The Venetian resort. Team members who fail to wear a face covering or mask to access the property, or a U.S. (Food and Drug Administration)-approved disposable surgical face mask provided by the company, will be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination.”
Wynn Resorts sidestepped the mask issue saying only that they ‘haven’t had any problems’ per company spokesman Michael Weaver:
“We’ve not had any employee refuse to wear a mask. Our experience is that our employees want to keep each other and our guests safe, so non-compliance isn’t an issue.”
The William Hill sportsbook at M Resorts was closed for a couple of days last week after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. To their credit, the Las Vegas area gaming companies have done a decent job maintaining their operations and acting quickly when employees test positive.