Nevada Casino Workers to Get Vaccine as COVID-19 Restrictions Remain

  • Gov. Steve Sisolak outlined a new vaccine rollout strategy that prioritizes the hospitality sector 
  • State restrictions got a 30-day extension as health authorities gauge the festive season's impact
  • Hospitality workers, including frontline casino staff, are deemed essential to Nevada's economy
  • Current measures require casinos and other businesses to only operate at 25% capacity
  • Nevada gambling revenue was down 34.5% year-on-year for first 11 months of 2020
Masked health professional administering a vaccine
As Nevada remains under current pandemic restrictions, Governor Sisolak has outlined a new vaccine rollout strategy that will cover frontline casino workers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Concerns about coronavirus case numbers

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak presented a new strategy to roll out vaccines to essential workers and those working in important economic sectors, such as frontline casino employees. The news on Monday afternoon came alongside the announcement that current COVID-19 restrictions in the state will remain in place for another 30 days.

The governor tweeted out the live stream outlining the latest updates on pandemic measures: 

As a result of the ongoing statewide “pause”, casinos still have to operate at reduced capacity as strict health and safety rules continue to be observed. Health officials in Nevada need more time to properly gauge the impact that gatherings and events during the recent holidays had on virus numbers, Gov. Sisolak added.

December holiday gatherings could lead to higher virus case numbers

The governor warned that December holiday gatherings could lead to higher virus case figures in the coming two weeks. He said new infections resulting from New Year’s Eve celebrations will not be measurable until the end of the month, adding: “It’s for these reasons that we will be continuing the mitigation measures that are currently in place.”

The extension of the COVID-19 restrictions will help alleviate some of the strain on local hospitals.

Protecting the hospitality sector

Nevada has had a high coronavirus infection rate in recent weeks. Public health officials confirmed 1,681 new cases on Monday, bringing the state’s overall total to more than 250,000. The death toll has reached 3,500, averaging at a daily figure of 19 over the past two weeks. 

such employees essential to “the hospitality capital of the world”

A key goal of the new vaccine rollout strategy is to increase the scope of eligible participants, extending the initial target audience to include hospitality and food service workers. Gov. Sisolak deemed such employees essential to “the hospitality capital of the world.” He did not indicate a vaccine rollout time frame.

Nevada Resort Association president Virginia Valentine welcomed the new vaccination strategy, saying it will protect resort workers and their families, help with hospital capacity, and allow the state’s hospitality sector to stay open in a safe manner.

Until Sunday, the state had administered 61,644 vaccines, including more than 8,700 second doses.

Impact on Nevada’s gambling economy

The current statewide “pause” requires casinos, restaurants, and bars to operate at 25% capacity. The facilities also have to adhere to health and safety guidelines originally introduced in June 2020. The wearing of masks is mandatory throughout the state. 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a big impact on the Nevada casino sector, with gaming revenue falling 34.5% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2020. Revenues for Las Vegas Strip properties dropped even further, dropping by 42.6%. Overall visitor numbers to Las Vegas declined by 54.4% for the period. 

One area that has been particularly hard hit is meetings and conventions, with this segment experiencing a 72.6% decrease in attendance during the said 11-month period.

Many hotel-casinos in Sin City are no longer opening midweek as a result of dwindling business due to COVID-19.