Social Distancing for Casinos: Don’t Gamble on Safety
As casinos and resorts closed by the coronavirus begin to reopen, implementing proper safeguards to ensure a safe gaming environment is critical for public health and safety. Casino owners and workers should follow federal, state, and local protocols for preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The Nevada State Gaming Control Board, which regulates the most iconic city for casinos, issued earlier this month new safety and health policy statements with instructions for the reopening of casinos and guidelines for enforcing social distancing. Along with recommendations from public health officials, casinos must take necessary steps to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Social Distancing in the Casino
The most noticeable change to casinos will likely come as a result of new policies and procedures for social distancing.
Limiting Capacity: Like grocery stores and retail shops, casinos will likely need to cut their capacity to ensure guests can social distance. Per the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, “Properties must limit occupancy to no more than 50% of the limit assigned to each gaming area of the property by local building and fire codes.” One casino in Idaho hit capacity on their first day re-opened and according to The Spokesman-Review, some patrons waited in line for up to 45 minutes to get in!
Social Distancing Floor Plan. Design the gaming floor to promote social distancing, rearranging slots and tables if possible. Other recommendations include removing every other stool at slot machines and assigning employees to ensure guests are not congregating in groups. Social distancing must also be practiced at all table games: three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table, four players per roulette table, and four players per poker table.
In addition to physically changing the space, it’s helpful to use floor marking tape and safety signs to remind guests to maintain a healthy distance. Our floor marking signs are durable enough for heavy foot traffic and we offer a wide selection of designs that fit right in at any casino.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to keep a casino clean. The frequency of cleaning public spaces, including the gaming floor, should be increased. Casinos will need to establish a new sanitation protocol for regularly disinfecting table games, rails, dice, shufflers, blackjack discard holders, tip boxes, and other frequently touched items, as well as a plan for disinfecting cards and chips.
Slot machines, per recommendations, should be sanitized after each player. One casino in North Dakota has implemented a system wherein a clean slot has a sticker put on it, when a player sits down, they remove the sticker so after leaving, workers know to wipe down that machine. Post signs on the gaming floor and in employee areas to remind everyone of cleaning procedures.
The health of people coming in and out of the casino must be a top priority. Many casinos, like this one in Oklahoma, have instituted mandatory temperature checks before entry; guests and employees with a temperature over 100 degrees are not allowed into the property. Employees know to look out for guests showing symptoms and workers should be encouraged to stay home if they are feeling sick.
The Nevada State Gaming Control Board recommends creating a plan for ensuring hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are readily available for casino employees and patron use. Many casinos have also opted to install handwashing stations around the gaming floor to promote good hand hygiene. Remember to post signs reminding patrons to wash their hands thoroughly for a full 20 seconds.
Other Areas in the Casino
Aside from the gaming floor, casinos will need to address the other services and amenities being offered. Plan for social distancing in keno lounges, bingo halls, and other gaming areas. This may mean limiting capacity for games or postponing games until social distancing restrictions are relaxed.
It is highly recommended to close off buffets and any self-serve stations and in Nevada, nightclubs and day clubs are required to stay closed. Restaurants and bars in the casino must also maintain six feet of social distancing. Like slot machines, this can be done by removing tables and chairs to create extra space.
When people start to head back to the casinos, it’s going to look a lot different. Time will only tell when casinos will be able to fully re-open amid this public health crisis. Until then, casinos and resorts should closely monitor government policy changes, CDC guidelines, government mandates, and public health advancements.
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