Las Vegas Casinos and Poker Rooms Embrace New Freedoms With Masks Off, Barriers Down

  • MGM, Caesars, Cosmopolitan, Circa, The D, and Treasure Island all have mask-free policies
  • Sands still requires vaccinated workers to wear masks, guests too “in some areas”
  • The Venetian, Golden Nugget, South Point are the only Vegas poker rooms with barriers still up
  • MGM is using technology to verify vaccinated employees who can work mask-free
Las Vegas welcome sign
A host of Las Vegas casino operators have announced mask-free policies for vaccinated patrons and staff in the past few days. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Casino operators fast to go mask-free

Following Wynn Las Vegas and Encore’s announcement of a masks-off-for-the-vaccinated policy, most Sin City casinos have been quick to jump on the post-pandemic freedom bandwagon.

MGM Resorts International, which announced its mask-free policy on Friday, took to Twitter to share an update of its new regulations on its weekly MGM Minute report:

MGM stated that while the mask-free policy applies to vaccinated guests and staff, “80% capacity restrictions” and some social distancing rules remain in place outside of its gaming floors, which includes pool areas and restaurants.

keep that excitement and momentum going”

MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle expressed Sin City’s feel-good “return to normal” mood in a Monday memo to staff. Hornbuckle referred to the eased restrictions as “a significant milestone” and urged his staff to “keep that excitement and momentum going.”

Meanwhile, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment, Circa, The D, Las Vegas Sands Corp, and Treasure Island have all adopted similar policies since May 13. While there are some minor policy variations, the common denominator is that vaccinated guests hitting the operators’ Nevada casino floors no longer need to wear masks.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Cosmopolitan, Circa and The D, Treasure Island, Wynn Resorts, and Caesars’ Nevada properties no longer require vaccinated guests or staff to wear masks. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. still requires workers to keep their masks on, and fully vaccinated guests must wear them “in most areas” of the property.

Sin City poker players seeing eye to eye again

On May 13, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) announced that vaccinated people will no longer need to wear masks. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak then declared the new guidance “effective immediately in Nevada,” which was music to the ears of the state’s gaming operators.

Masks-off policy aside, the dropping of plexiglass barrier restrictions at gaming tables is sweeping Vegas’ poker establishments like wildfire. The off-Strip Orleans, one of the last to say goodbye to barriers, made up for lost time on Saturday, with the LVRJ quoting poker room manager Garrett Okahara as saying barriers were “down as of early this morning!”

The Orleans then announced via Twitter that poker tournaments “will be played 9-handed, effective immediately”:

All of Caesars Entertainment’s Vegas poker rooms have dispensed with plexiglass. Also on board with barrier-free tables are MGM Resorts, Station Casinos, and Wynn Las Vegas’s poker room housed at Encore. Exceptions are The Golden Nugget, South Point, and The Venetian.

a timeless moment in poker history”

Poker pro and YouTuber Jeff Sluzinski (aka Jeff Boski) tweeted Friday that the removal of plexiglass was “a timeless moment in poker history.”

Negotiating a new Nevada gambling landscape

Recognizing the impracticality of asking casino operators to verify the vaccination veracity of mask-free patrons, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) does not require casinos in the state to do so. Wynn Resorts issued a press release stating it “trusts guests to take the appropriate precautions based on their personal vaccination status.”

MGM Resorts, meanwhile, is taking a more accountable, technology-driven approach to verify its shots-compliant staff. Employees can upload a copy of their CDC vaccination card to the company’s online portal. According to the LVRJ, “verified workers will receive a sticker that will let them work without a mask.”