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Published on April 13th, 2021 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


How Casinos in Nevada Have Upped their Game despite the Covid-19 Restrictions

The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in every industry in the United States, but none is a worst-hit than the hospitality industry. For the state of Nevada, whose economy overly relies on visitations and conventions, the impact of the pandemic has been unimaginable.

To put this into perspective, the popular city of Las Vegas, which has been receiving more than 42 million annual visitors for the past five consecutive years, recorded the lowest number of visitors in 30 years. The city received only 19 million tourists in 2020, slightly above its lowest record of 18.1 million set in 1989.

As the state emerges from the third wave of the pandemic bearing a glimmer of hope through massive vaccinations, we take a look at its journey through the pandemic and how it shaped its core industry, the gambling sector.

A year of Covid-19 Pandemic

On March 17, 2020, Nevada’s governor Steve Sisolak ordered a total lockdown of the state’s important business and limited movement in line with the Federal directives. The move left thousands of residents without jobs and the state’s economy in limbo.

In May 2020, essential businesses such as barbershops, saloons, and most retail companies were reopened with intense restrictions to limit visitors’ numbers. Casinos were reopened in June with a 50% reduction in the number of occupancy and other requirements.

In November, the pandemic’s second wave forced the state to revise its regulations, slashing the occupancy in casinos, bars, and restaurants to 25% from 50%, while public gatherings were limited to 50 people with a mandatory wearing of masks.

By March 15, 2021, businesses were operating at a 35% capacity, a figure that is set to grow as more people get vaccinated. 

How casinos adapted to the new normal

Casinos in Nevada have endured the century’s challenge through innovative measures to secure their customers’ trust in several ways, as listed below.

  • Online Casinos

According to a report published on Global Poker, there was a 255% increase in the number of online poker players since the onset of Covid-19 in the United States, with the key driver being movement restrictions imposed by global lockdowns.

The virtual casino is the decade’s innovation as casinos sought to reach their home-based clients through online platforms. Boosted by modern technological advancements, virtual casinos provide a real gambling experience through their interactive features and clear communication channels between them and the dealer. 

The mode of play is fair and free of manipulation. The experience cuts across all casino games such as roulette and blackjack. Learn more about online casinos in Nevada in detail here.

  • A limited number of visitors

Casinos had to reduce their occupancy levels after the first wave of the pandemic. The state regulations mandated a 50% occupancy reduction for all casinos, bars, and restaurants. However, most casinos operated way below the set limits to enhance their customers’ and staff’s safety.

Gaming tables have been reduced and widely spaced to enhance social distancing among players. For these top industry players, the safety of their clients is a top priority.

  • Going cashless

As the virus could spread through contact with infected surfaces, such as physical cash, casinos quickly went cashless by adopting online payment methods and discouraging their customers from using physical money.

Most casinos accept payment through online merchants such as PayPal, Skrill, and Payoneer. Where possible, casinos facilitate direct money transfers from banking accounts while others have adopted digital currencies for cryptocurrencies. This way, customers can make quick withdrawals and deposit while at home.

  • Use of disposables artifacts

Due to a reduced number of visitors, the best way to remain in business is by keeping the few visitors safe and satisfied. Gone are the days when casinos used expensive wine glasses on their poker tables as they are prone to spread the virus through contact.

Today, players use disposable utensils, napkins, and cups, while non-disposable items are handled with disinfected gloves and thoroughly cleaned before reuse. For items such as cards, they are sanitized and left for 72 hours before use.

  • Open spaces

Brick and mortar casinos have embraced social distancing as the new model. Most have reduced the number of furniture and playing spots to facilitate social distancing. Others have converted open lawns into playing spaces with adequate ventilation and room for players.

  • Adequate staff management

Staff management became crucial for casinos as they come into contact with different customers when on duty. Most casinos facilitate working from home conditions for staff members managing virtual casinos to limit movement from home to workplace.

Additionally, staff members have been equipped with appropriate safety kits such as masks, gloves, sanitizers, and sneeze guards to limit the chances of contracting the virus. Staff lounges have been discouraged and replaced with outdoor spaces. 

Lastly, casinos have been at the forefront in providing frequent free testing services to their staff members. In cases where a staff member has tested positive, they have been placed on mandatory sick leave, and if the instances are widespread among other members, the casino is closed indefinitely.

  • Stepping up hygiene

The SARS virus can be spread by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. Top casinos have upped their hygiene by ensuring that all exposed surfaces are continuously sanitized. These include gaming tables, seats, and shared gaming equipment. 

Furthermore, casinos have discouraged sharing of equipment by providing a surplus for each player. A look into a modern casino, and you will feel the difference; the seats are labeled, indicating where players can sit while the dining area is limited or done away with altogether.

Parting shot

Despite being ravaged by the pandemic, Nevada’s gambling industry still maintains its gold standard attributes, thanks to its adaptive casinos and other industry players.

 Innovative measures such as online casinos not only kept the industry and the entire state’s economy afloat but also conquered a new unexploited market of domestic gamblers.

As more Americans get vaccinated, more Americans are expected to travel as early as June 2021, and the gambling industry in Nevada might get a deserved comeback into glory. However, experts advise that the sector isn’t out of the woods, and a return to normalcy might take longer than anticipated.


About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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