Las Vegas Strip hoteliers outline precautions planned upon reopening
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to confirm when casinos will be able to reopen, but operators are preparing for the day they’ll have to reassure guests their properties are clean and safe amid the virus outbreak.
Within the last week, MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. have all discussed plans for taking extra precautions to combat the virus’ spread.
This comes as Culinary Local 226 is negotiating with resorts amid the shutdown, seeking an enhanced cleaning standard for all areas of casinos.
Jonathan Day, an associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at Purdue University, said the extra efforts can be critical in alleviating customers’ fears.
“As travel starts to return, many travelers will be anxious and uncertain about leaving home,” he said. “Hoteliers need to show people that they are safe and being cared for by their hosts. … When people feel safe, they’ll start traveling again.”
In a video published Tuesday, MGM’s Acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the company’s properties would be “operating differently” when they reopen.
Two days later the company released more details and said that operations may include “restrictions on the number of seats per table game, slot machine spacing, temperature checks, mask protection as well as other measures at our restaurants and entertainment venues to enforce social distancing measures.”
MGM spokesman Brian Ahern declined further comment.
Las Vegas Sands
In a quarterly earnings call Wednesday, Sands President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Goldstein said the company would look to Hong Kong as an example for health and cleaning guidelines.
Temperature checks, masks, gloves and social distancing are the norm as businesses there start to reopen.
“(In their restaurants), you sit a certain 5-10 feet apart, you get temp check coming in, you wear gloves, you wear masks,” Goldstein said. “I envision a similar environment here in Las Vegas.”
He added that it’ll be more difficult to acclimate to the new operations in Las Vegas because the general public is less familiar with wearing masks and public temperature checks.
“Although it’s going to take some time and some comfort to get acclimated. I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “The rooms will be clean beyond clean, (with) the wiping down of surfaces, social distancing.”
A statement from The Venetian to the Review-Journal said: “all areas” of the resort’s operations have been reviewed and a detailed plan is currently in place to address these changes.” Preparations for reopening have been made “from the arrival experience to the suite experience, from the casino floor to meeting spaces, as well as our restaurants and lounges.”
Updated guidelines published Sunday show that Wynn plans to reopen its Nevada properties — Wynn Las Vegas and Encore — with a variety of extra precautions in place:
— Poker: Every other table will be open, and tables are to be staggered. The maximum seating will be established “based on expert guidance,” and dealers should give verbal breaks instead of “tapping in.” Guests will be reminded to sanitize their hands before playing, and food service protocols are to be reviewed.
Supervisors are instructed to sanitize table game rails and chairs after each customer leaves, and sanitize the outside of shufflers every hour and the inside of shufflers once a week. They should also sanitize podiums at least once per hour, including phones, computers and all hard surfaces; and sanitize toke boxes, among other measures.
Chip sanitation solutions are “being reviewed” and pending expert guidance.
— Table games: Every other table will be open, with a maximum of three chairs or guests per table game and four chairs per big baccarat table. There will be three players maximum on each side of dice tables, seating will be removed in the table games lounge and the properties will “discourage unrelated guests from congregating behind players.”
A number of cleaning operations have been added to table games. Supervisors are to sanitize table game rails and chair areas after each guest leaves a game. Dealers should sanitize dice for each new shooter, the on and off button when entering a game, and the exterior of the card shoe when entering a game and interior when the game goes dead. Other cleaning procedures, including deep cleaning the players lounge daily, are laid out in the new guidelines.
— Slots: Certain machines will be turned off and chairs will be reconfigured to allow for social distancing. Guests are to remain 6 feet apart while waiting in line at Red Card booths. There will be signage reminding guests to sanitize machines before use and hand-sanitizing stations spread across the casino floor, and slot attendants will offer to sanitize slots for guests at machines. Workstations and slots will be sanitized at least once every four hours.
— Race and sportsbooks: Every other betting station will be closed, and 6-foot intervals will be marked for those standing in line at the ticket window. Seats, carrels and booths will be relocated to allow for social distancing. Supervisors will sanitize race carrels and chairs after each guest and sanitize stations every hour. Ticket writers should sanitize the counter after each guest. Chairs will be sanitized hourly, VIP booths will be sanitized after use and the area will be deep cleaned daily.
Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver did not respond to a request for additional comment.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokesman Richard Broome told the Review-Journal that the company “will build on the hygiene, cleaning and distancing protocols which were coming into practice when properties were ordered to close last month.”
Those protocols include increased availability of hand sanitizer, slot machines cleaned every three hours, every other slot machine turned off, every other position at table games removed, restaurant tables separated by 6 feet, and reduced bar capacity by half.
Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman David Strow declined to comment, and Station Casinos spokesman Michael Britt did not respond to a request for comment.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.