A Nevada Gaming Control Board member said Thursday there will be “vigilant enforcement” of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directives on patrons wearing face masks in casinos and gaming establishments that could face discipline if they don’t comply.
Sisolak on Wednesday mandated masks be worn in public places, effective Friday, and casino executives speaking to the Nevada Gaming Commision on unrelated matters Thursday applauded the move and said they’re preparing for it.
“There will be vigilant enforcement activities as we go forward to ensure the governor’s most recent announcement is fully adhered to for the benefit of our entire industry,” said board member Terry Johnson.
Since the state’s casinos reopened June 4 and COVID-19 safety and social distancing measures were put in place by the board and expanded last week with face masks required at table games without protective shields, Johnson said they continue to work on enforcement. He didn’t specify if there were any problems with a particular casino or other non-casino gaming operators.
“We have given additional resources from other divisions within the board to help monitor and identify areas for correction, and I anticipate that will occur as necessary and there will be disciplinary action,” Johnson said. “There are matters we are currently looking at to determine the appropriate disciplinary action and we will continue to explore those instances where behavior has merited some form of disciplinary action. Where warranted the board will take it. It may involve the Gaming Commission at some point should matters proceed to hearings or worse-case scenarios.”
Johnson said he doesn’t expect any refusal to comply with the governor’s directives, but the board has the ability to recommend suspensions or other penalties.
“We do expect cooperation and are committing resources necessary to assist to maintain compliance,” Johnson said.
Mark Czerniak, chief financial officer for New York-New York and MGM Grand casinos, said about 25 percent of customers have been wearing face coverings, and it’s been a concern of the team and employees.
“We’re very supportive of the change,” Czerniak said. “We think that makes it easier for us to move forward in a consistent way. We’re trying to get the right signage in place and make sure we have the right level of face-mask availability both at our door and throughout our properties. For us, it is going to be getting through another round of training today as we approach midnight tonight with that change going into play and then having the right amount of leadership and employees on the floor around our customers reinforcing those changes. Our customers understand we are taking it seriously right out of the gate.”
Commission member Deborah Fuetsch said she hopes properties have positive results by its patrons.
“But it’s going to be tough,” she said. “I know you are out there and going to be fighting the fight. Thanks for training your employees and not just throwing them out there.”
Thomas Reich, senior vice president and general counsel for Wynn Las Vegas, said they were thankful to see the new direction from the governor. They are changing signage at all of their entrances that says coverings are required.
“In addition to security at each of our entrances, we also have management that is present at each entrance greeting guests and also greeting employees and handing out face masks,” Reich said. “Before it was encouraging them and starting tonight at 11:59 p.m. it will be requiring them.”
Reich said the mask mandated not only helps keep people safe but allows the casino to stay open.
Cashlss gaming approved
The commission also approved proposed amendments that allow electronic transfers of money to a game or gaming from debited instruments, which is currently prohibited.
Currently, the board allows money to be transferred from a financial institution to a system that prints a voucher that is deposited into a game.
The new regulations allow direct transfers of money to a game without requiring a voucher and paves the way for use of mobile wallets as is done in other industries. Credit card transactions remain prohibited.
There’s been a big push by the American Gaming Association and cashless payment industry for its expanded use at casinos similar to what’s available in retail and other industries. That has been pushed forward about the concerns of handling money during COVID-19.
The regulation, which does away with a $1,000 a day limit in place since 2019, said by February 2021 a daily transfer limit will be configured by the patron who must wait 24 hours to change that limit.
The regulations require the use of a cashless wagering system approved by the chair of the board. Manufacturers with equipment that transfers money to a game will need to be licensed.
In 2019, the commission approved Reno-based Automated Cash Systems PlayOn cashless wagering in which a table games’ player can swipe their debit card and receive chips. That system has since been installed on tables at various Las Vegas properties, and technology is available for slots.