Restricted Gaming Venues Take a Hit as Nevada Governor Issues Bar Closure Order

  • Sisolak cited lack of compliance with coronavirus protocols as reason for bar closure order
  • Directive impacts restricted gaming locations as most slot machines are built into bar tops
  • Washoe, Clark counties on hit list, affecting bars in Las Vegas Valley and Reno
  • Sisolak criticized non-compliant businesses for “jeopardising people's health”  
  • He will wait for additional information before deciding on any new restrictions for casinos
Las Vegas bar top with integrated slot machines
Bars hosting the majority of Nevada’s bar-top slot machines have been ordered to close from Friday 11:59pm. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols prompts closures

Most restricted gaming locations will cease to operate as bars and bar areas at venues in Nevada close from Friday 11:59pm for an indefinite duration. Governor Steve Sisolak said at a press conference on Thursday that the lack of compliance with coronavirus protocols prompted the bar closure order.

ruling directly impacts Nevada’s restricted gaming locations – venues operating 15 or fewer slot machines

With the governor pointing out that it’s “easier to wear a mask on a casino floor than it is while drinking in a bar”, the ruling directly impacts Nevada’s restricted gaming locations – venues operating 15 or fewer slot machines. This is because many of the 19,054 slot machines housed within almost 2,000 restricted gaming locations statewide are built into bar tops.

While all the counties affected by the new directive have yet to be listed, the ones already specified encompass the Las Vegas Valley and Reno localities. An official tweet from City Hall in downtown Las Vegas confirmed the order:

Growing concern over Nevada’s latest COVID-19 spike, the highest across all US states, forced the Gov. Sisolak to take urgent action.

Return to Phase One

The latest directive for Washoe and Clark counties to return to Phase One restrictions comes just one month after gaming and entertainment businesses began to reopen in Nevada.

continued increase in confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations”

“We’re still watching a continued increase in confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Sisolak said, despite the state’s recent order to make wearing face masks mandatory.

While Nevada health officials were quoted by US News as saying it’s too early to tell how effective the mask mandate is, compliance monitors conducted 1,500 observations of businesses and found only 79% that were compliant.

In an official press release last week, Sisolak said only 50% of bars and restaurant bar areas visited by officials were following guidelines. Praising businesses who were complying, he criticised the deviants for “jeopardizing people’s health […] fellow businesses, your industry, and our overall economy.”

Not hitting the panic button yet

Nevada health officials were reportedly alarmed by compliance levels in hotel pools and on casino floors. Sisolak meanwhile said he would wait for additional information before deciding whether to implement new restrictions, with investigations into casinos still ongoing.

alarmed by compliance levels in hotel pools and casinos

The governor publicly expressed the gravity of his directives, tweeting:


With up to 2,500 gaming licensees in Nevada, it is estimated that on average, each gambling property has been inspected three times since June 4. For the restricted gaming industry, which caters to a heavy base of local customers, the latest rule has dire consequences.

Unlike casinos, these businesses are not taxed on gaming revenue. Instead, they pay quarterly or annual fees based on the number of slot machines they operate.