Nevada Gaming Watchdog forces Casinos to submit their reopening plans

Nevada gaming watchdog forces casinos to submit their reopening plans

As casinos and other gaming venues are itching to reopen after the prolonged corona virus-induced shutdown, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) is forcing them to submit their reopening plans before resuming operations.

The state gaming watchdog said gaming properties would have to submit their reopening plans so that the agency could scrutinize the plans to suggest required safeguards to ensure public safety in the wake of corona virus pandemic. However, the watchdog ensured the entertainment venues that their plans would not be made public. State officials explained that under the state’s revised statutes 463.120, subsection 6, any documents submitted by a licensee about the Gaming Board’s regulatory authority was confidential and could not be disclosed.

It may be noted here that NGCB can not release the reopening plan documents to the public due to requirements under state law. NGCB Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan said that the reopening plans would not be disclosed to the public as state law considers any such documents confidential.

Michael Lawton, a research analyst at Nevada’s Administration Division, said, “The Gaming Control Board will not release reopening plans that have been submitted to the Board. Gaming properties are free to share their plans with the public if they choose to … the board doesn’t have the authority to waive the confidentiality provision.”

Many Nevada Indian casinos are built on tribal lands held in trust by the US federal government. As the tribes own the land and enjoy sovereignty, they do not require stick to state governor’s orders. However, the state officials have certain indirect methods, such as show cause notice or taxes, to make them abide by state’s orders.

Meanwhile, several casino operators in different parts of the country have already reopened their entertainment venues. However, they did so only after ensuring state health authorities that they would follow all required safeguards and precautionary measure guidelines, including sanitization of high-traffic areas and making facemasks compulsory for employees and guests.

However, the gaming watchdog’s decision not to disclose casinos’ reopening plans to the public has been severely condemned by the First Amendment advocates and Culinary Workers Union Local 226. They blamed NGCB of showing a lack of transparency.

Arguing against the NGCB’s decision, union spokesperson Bethany Khan urged Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to use his authority to mandate a uniform health safety protocol immediately, as well as to require all gaming operators to post their detailed safety guidelines for the public to see.