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An outcome previously thought impossible, casinos across Las Vegas were forced to shut down as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
As the country begins to “bend the curve” and get the outbreak under control, focus in the gaming industry has shifted to safely reopening resorts. Strategies to keep guests and employees safe will be top of mind for both casino leadership and regulatory bodies. With no vaccine expected in the near term, casino gaming is assuredly going to change.
Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts shared his insight on reopening the state of Nevada in an opinion piece published in the Nevada Independent. Notably, he suggests Nevada “Reopen parts of the local Nevada economy in early May” followed by the potential opening of resorts on the Las Vegas Strip in mid to late May.
Maddox also highlighted specific actions Wynn will take to keep patrons and employees safe upon reopening in their 23 page “Health and Sanitation Program” plan which goes into extraordinary detail.
While Wynn is the first resort to release a detailed health and safety plan, many of the details are likely to be adopted by other players in the gaming industry. Here are some notable changes you will see at Wynn and likely other casinos as they reopen.
Thermal Camera Temperature Checks
Wynn will utilize non-invasive thermal cameras to check the temperature of patrons entering the resort. Guests or employees identified to have a temp of 100 or greater will be taken to a private area for a secondary screening. If a temperature over 100 degrees is confirmed, guests will be asked to leave the property.
Guest Experience Changes
Upon arrival, guests will be offered a mask, although it is not explicitly stated in the plan if wearing them will be required. Guests will be required to lower their mask for age/ID verification when asked.
Doors into the resort will be contactless, either propped open or automatic. Elevator capacity will be limited to 4 per car. Lines for coffee shops, players club, etc. will be marked so that guests can easily distance themselves and restaurants will reduce seating capacity to ensure the required distance between parties is maintained.
Slot games will be turned off, or removed to allow for physical distance between games. Table games will have chairs removed and only utilize every other table. For both slot and table games, management will ensure guests do not congregate.
Pool seating will be spaced out to ensure distancing and retail establishments will limit the number of guests who are allowed into the store at once.
Property Sanitization Will be a Priority
Wynn has nearly every detail of property sanitization covered. For instance, the plan details that elevator buttons will be sanitized at least once per hour. Public spaces will be sanitized regularly with an emphasis on contact surfaces like ATMs, handrails, bathroom surfaces, etc. There is a plan for every conceivable surface with a defined time frame or event (like a player leaving a table game or seat) that particular surface is to be addressed.
We assume a comprehensive surface sanitization plan like Wynn’s will be a standard operating procedure that other casino operators will also adopt.
Notably missing, however, is a plan for chip cleaning which is of obvious importance to guests. Wynn notes that solutions for chip cleaning are currently being reviewed. Additionally, there is no mention of sanitizing playing cards that are touched by players and dealers, although players will be reminded to use hand sanitizer before playing.
Employees will receive training on how to respond to a positive Covid case on property as well as how to effectively wear personal protective equipment. Masks will be a requirement for employees and customer-facing employees will also wear gloves where deemed appropriate.
Unanswered Questions for Wynn and the Gaming Industry
How will chips be sanitized? A communal item touched by all, chip cleanliness is of paramount importance. Could properties move to digital balance displays instead of physical chips?
How will playing cards be sanitized? Games that require players to physically hold cards that are then redistributed to the table could be problematic. Electronic variations of table games, with individual betting screens, could be a better option when compared to live games in the near term.
How do you handle guest non-compliance? Casino guests have differing personal hygiene practices and thoughts on the severity of the current health crisis. How will guests that disregard health recommendations be handled? How will you verify if a guest washes their hands after using the restroom or that they are using hand sanitizer?
Asymptomatic patrons/employees will go undetected. Temperature checks, while wise, may not catch infected individuals not showing symptoms. While Wynn’s plan aims to address that possibility through sanitation, carriers of the virus are bound to enter resorts that open for business.
Casino operators have a monumental, unenviable, task ahead of them as they look to welcome guests back. One thing is for sure, you can expect big changes to your experience when visiting a casino in the near term.