COVID-19 has essentially decimated Nevada’s ability to generate revenue. With a long history of relying heavily on the lucrative gambling industry, the Silver State came to an abrupt standstill when the coronavirus pandemic seeped across state lines last year.
Casinos were initially forced to shut down completely before a slow rollout began, ultimately leading to gambling venues being able to operate at 50% capacity late last year. Even as some casinos remain closed as operators determine how to proceed, the current capacity restrictions are going to stay in place, at least until the majority of Nevada’s hospitality workforce receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 Remains a Threat In Nevada
According to CDC Gaming Reports, both the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) laid down the law last Friday. The chairmen of both of the state’s gaming regulatory bodies signed an order that will keep the current 50%-capacity levels at casinos in place until they feel that enough employees have been vaccinated.
In their joint statement, NGCB Chairman Brin Gibson and NGC Chairman John Moran, Jr. asserted that “viral surges are a continuing threat to the economic health of the gaming industry and greater state, as they threaten the hard-fought efforts undertaken over the last year to safely reopen.”
Starting on May 1, local governments in Nevada will be given the responsibility to determine how to proceed with restrictions and other anti-COVID-19 protocols. However, the NGCB will retain control over all gaming venues in the state. This control includes occupancy limits and measures designed to keep the coronavirus from resurging, a concern that continues to impact Nevada’s ability to launch a more widespread recovery process.
COVID-19 Continues to Attack
Despite massive initiatives across the country to stop COVID-19 in its tracks, there have still been isolated hotspots around the country. As vaccinations continue to be applied, a new wave of infections has emerged, causing regulators and health officials to take a stricter approach to health protocols.
Having already suffered economic losses that put its gaming revenue total at the lowest level since 1996, Nevada can’t afford to experience a new spike in COVID-19 cases and the NGCB and NGC warn that they are ready to “take action” against any entity that violates their directives.
The gaming regulators didn’t quantify the number of employees that would have to be vaccinated before they would consider easing the restrictions, but extensive vaccinations are coming. 18% of the state’s population has reportedly received its anti-COVID-19 shots already, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and just under one in three residents has started the process to receive the vaccine.
However, the chairmen added in their memo that the coronavirus is “a continuing threat to the health and well-being of the significant portion of the population employed by the hospitality industry, making vaccination efforts an indispensable element in the board’s and commission’s ongoing COVID-19 strategy.”