‘Great Day’ for Nevada Casinos Following Mask Mandate Lift

  • Gaming licensees are not required to ask casino patrons to confirm their vaccination status
  • Starting this evening, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore vaccinated patrons can go mask-free
  • Wynn said the masks-off-for-the-vaccinated rule also applies to its resort employees
  • Most Sin City casinos are back at 100% capacity, poker rooms have ditched plexiglass barriers
hand holds surgical mask against a blue sky
Nevada casinos got a huge shot in the arm Thursday as Gov. Sisolak declared the CDC’s guidance that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks “effective immediately” in Nevada. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New guidance ‘effective immediately in Nevada’

US President Joe Biden’s “great day for America” Rose Garden address – referring to a Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announcement that vaccinated people will no longer need to wear masks – is welcome news for Nevada’s casinos.

Thursday’s CDC mask update prompted Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to declare the new guidance “effective immediately in Nevada.” The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) yesterday shared an official release on Twitter stating that the regulator “neither requires nor prohibits gaming licensees from confirming patron vaccination status”:

While the NGCB gave casinos in the state the power to decide their own mask policies, it’s widely expected that the major players will follow Wynn Las Vegas and Encore’s suit. Sin City casino operator Wynn Resorts got its skates on early saying via a press release that, as of Thursday evening, it would tell fully vaccinated guests they can go mask-free.

trusts guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their personal vaccination status”

The NGCB’s stance on not requiring casino operators to verify the veracity of those with or without vaccinations, which it said was not practical, is open to abuse. Wynn, however, said it “trusts guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their personal vaccination status.”

‘We have all longed for this moment’

In a news release, Wynn said the masks-off-for-the-vaccinated rule also applies to its resort employees.

A May 13 update on the CDC website said fully inoculated people don’t need to wear a mask or practice social distancing. The exception is where existing mandates are “required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said during the Thursday White House briefing:

we can get back to some sense of normalcy”

The ditching of masks signals a return to pre-pandemic behavior. It marks a huge shot in the arm for this fall’s live World Series of Poker, which CBS Sports Network will cover this year in place of the outgoing ESPN. The new guidance also greases the increasingly up-shifting gears of Las Vegas’s major casino operators, most of which were given the NGCB’s green light this week to open their casino floors at 100% capacity.

Full steam ahead for Sin City casinos

Vegas casino properties currently operating at full 100% capacity include Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Silverton, and STRAT Hotel, Casino & Skypod. All nine of Caesars Entertainment’s Strip properties are also back at full clip.

One of the Paradise, Nevada-based casino operator’s most iconic properties, Caesars Palace, took to Twitter to express its party mood yesterday following the NGCB’s May 12 nod:

The removal of plexiglass barriers is another dropped restriction Sin City casinos have nearly all adopted. According to CardPlayer, all of Caesars’ Vegas poker rooms are now divider-free. While Wynn’s poker room at Encore was first to ditch the plexiglass, the Bellagio, Bally’s, Flamingo, and Planet Hollywood have all followed suit.

The Venetian is the only major poker room on Las Vegas Boulevard that is still operating with barriers. Downtown’s Golden Nugget and the off-Strip Orleans have also kept their plexiglass guard up, the poker magazine reported.

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