COVID-19: Nevada Casinos to Operate at 25% Capacity for Three Weeks

  • Governor Steve Sisolak announced the new restrictions in response to coronavirus surge
  • Face coverings are mandatory at all times, operating capacities are down to 25% 
  • Nevada Gaming Control Board will enforce the occupancy limits at casino properties
  • The state's gambling sector has been struggling since casinos reopened in June
female doctor's face alongside coronavirus surge graphic
Nevada casinos have to operate at 25% capacity for three weeks according to the latest announcement by Governor Sisolak following a surge in COVID-19 cases. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Statewide pause as situation escalates

Nevada casinos will operate at 25% capacity starting Tuesday, November 24, in the wake of record daily COVID-19 cases in the state. Governor Steve Sisolak said the number of virus infections is at “wildfire levels”, placing the region in a “red zone”. 

The governor tweeted out a link to his Sunday press conference, where he talked through upcoming changes for the state:

Gov. Sisolak announced a “statewide pause” for three weeks. All residents and visitors must wear a face covering or mask at all times when in the presence of someone who is not a part of their household. Capacity levels at many businesses and gatherings will drop from 50% to 25%, while retail establishments will not have to further restrict occupancy. 

Quelling the virus

While there is no shutdown order, the goal of the three-week pause is to “aggressively try to attack this spread” while also enabling the economy and daily life to continue somewhat. Bars and restaurants too will be subject to the 25% capacity rule. All restaurant-goers will need to have a reservation, with a maximum of four patrons allowed to sit at a single table. 

chance of casinos returning to better gaming floor occupancies

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) will be in charge of enforcing the new capacity restrictions at casinos. NGCB chairman J. Brin Gibson has noted that the more Nevada mitigates the spread of the virus in the coming weeks, the greater the chance of casinos returning to better gaming floor occupancies.

While Gov. Sisolak recently advised Nevada residents to stay in their homes as much as possible to help lower COVID-19 cases, stronger measures are now necessary. The week up to November 22 saw around 2,002 cases each day, a rise of 61% from the average registered two weeks previously. The number of hospitalizations and deaths has also been increasing.

A struggling sector

If the latest set of restrictions are not effective, the virus cases continue to rise, and the healthcare system is under strain, Gov. Sisolak will have to take stronger action. 

On March 18, he issued a closure order for gaming operations in Nevada for 78 days. Casinos were able to reopen on June 4 while adhering to strict health and safety, capacity, and hygiene guidelines. The sector has been struggling somewhat to deal with the fallout of the pandemic. Gaming revenues were down 45% through September, as airline passenger volume at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport fell 56.5%. 

As a result of lower demand from patrons, a number of casinos are no longer opening during the week. The latest to do so will be the hotel operations at The Mirage and Mandalay Bay. MGM Resorts International announced that these properties will be closed Mondays through Thursdays starting November 30.