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I took my first stroll into a casino this week in about three months. I chose to check out what was going on over at Red Rock Resort. They threw a few dollars of free play at me and I figured it was time I see what is really happening for myself.

I have to admit at first glance, I thought that nothing had changed. Well, except for the part where they did some sort of thermal testing to see if I had a fever. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience as there was literally no line when I arrived.

As I started to walk around the slot and video poker machines, I was expecting to see roughly half of them turned off, or there to at least be some special screen explaining why players couldn’t play some of the machines. Instead, I found all the machines turned on and looking like they were ready to be played. It was only as I went to find a machine to play my free play on that I realized that only about half of the machines had chairs in front of them.

Theoretically, I guess players could move the chairs around within reason to avoid social distancing. But, from experience, I know these chairs don’t move easily and that’s just when I want to pull them out so I can sit down.

I did notice one couple playing on adjacent machines, but I presume this is within the rules. The nice part about doing it the way Red Rock did it is that if a couple chooses to play side by side they can do so by simply moving a chair over one machine. By default this would still leave the machine on either side unplayable.

Having only half the machines available was not an issue on this particular morning. Admittedly, I was there on mid-morning on a weekday, so we are not talking prime time. But as far as I could tell, the place was empty relative to the pre-coronavirus days.

When I was done using my free play, I walked over to where the table games are. Here again, it looked almost normal. Red Rock has chosen to not use any form of plastic partitions so tables looked like they normally do. There was nothing stopping players from sitting at any position, so I assume it is on the dealers to make sure that there are no more than three players at any table and that they are spaced out appropriately.

There was no one waiting to sit down, and they seemed to have only a handful of tables with action on them. Overall, I’d be surprised if there were more than 12 or 15 table players in total.

One thing that I did notice that was quite different. An area of table games and/or slot machines had been removed and had been replaced with Interblock’s multi-player, multi-game electronic table games. If you haven’t seen one of these, it is a bit hard to explain.

Essentially, each player sits at his own terminal and in the center there are multiple screens, with each playing a different game. Players can choose which game they want to play. This allows for a higher degree of flexibility for the casino, while ensuring a higher degree of social distancing for the player. The money is all electronic. The cards, wheel, dice are all electronic. So, as long as someone is cleaning the terminals in between players’ use, the risk is diminished.

The one drawback at the moment to these games is that they offer mostly just the traditional titles — Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Baccarat. I have no doubt that will change in the coming months.

It will be interesting to see what further changes will take place on the casino floor in the coming months and whether or not the volume of players picks up. From what I’ve read and heard, the Strip is probably doing a higher volume of business (relative to normal) than the Red Rock was doing on this day. 

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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