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Nevada Gaming Regulators Prepare for Casino Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccination

The state is still determining when casino employees will get the vaccination, but for now wants to know if they are willing to get inoculated

The sidewalk in front of Treasure Island, looking at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas
The sidewalk in front of Treasure Island, looking at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas
Leinani Shak Photography

The state moved essential workers in the gaming industry up on the list of people who can receive the COVID-19 vaccination last week. The Gaming Control Board wants to know if those employees who have direct contact with customers are willing to get inoculated so it can determine a game plan for distribution.

In what Nevada calls its COVID-19 playbook, front-line casino and resort workers land in the fourth category of workers eligible for the vaccine as part of the state’s front-line and essential workforce lane, slotting behind workers in education, agriculture, and some state and local government employees.

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation estimates that 301,700 people work in the leisure and hospitality industry as of November, making up about a quarter of the state’s workforce.

Nevada gaming regulators sent non-restricted gaming license holders a survey to gather numbers that will help state and county health agencies roll out a vaccination plan. Although the timing of when gaming and tourism workers has not been released, the move could help the state recover quicker from the drop in tourism in 2020.

Business and convention tourism fell from 6.6 million conventioneers in 2019 to 1.7 million in 2020, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, while the state reported gaming revenues through November 2020 down 34.5 percent from 2019. Tourism overall is down 54.5 percent in 2020.

Gaming companies have until Thursday to share whether they have enough information to determine whether employees would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, what additional information is needed, and how likely staff is to get a vaccination when available.

Last week, Gov. Steve Sisolak divided the state’s vaccine rollout plan into two lanes, with one based on occupation, and the other based on age, underlying health conditions, and housing status. So far in Nevada, those age 70 and older, Nevada law enforcement, corrections staff, education and childcare workers, social services employees, and public transportation workers can register to receive the vaccination, a two-dose injection from either Moderna and Pfizer. After both doses, the health district says that the vaccination is more than 90 percent effective at protecting people from getting sick with COVID-19.

Nevada casinos, restaurants, and bars remain under a state directive that keeps dining rooms at 25 percent capacity, requires diners to make mandatory reservations, and limits tables to four people that started on November 24.

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