MGM Resorts released a reopening plan for its casinos that indicates poker may not initially be offered when it reopens its properties in cities like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
MGM Resorts Awaiting Guidance from Medical Experts
The plan states that the company is “awaiting additional guidance from state and local authorities, and our medical experts before determining if our poker rooms may be safely reopened.”
MGM Resorts operates some of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, and some of the city’s most trafficked poker rooms including those at Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Mirage, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay. The company also operates Borgata in Atlantic City, which offers the largest poker room in New Jersey.
The plan developed by MGM Resorts in many ways mirrors the guidelines recently released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and promotes social distancing by taking at least every other slot machine out of commission and discouraging crowds behind players at gaming tables.
The plan also strongly encourages players to wear masks in MGM Resorts casinos unless they are drinking. Eating in casino areas will be prohibited. To that end, buffets will no longer be self-serve; instead, employees must serve guests.
Plexiglass Barriers Will Be Installed at Some Tables
MGM Resorts’ plan will reduce the number of players allowed per table “in accordance with local gaming regulations.” It also says that “where practical, plexiglass barriers or other similar alternatives will be installed or available at tables where appropriate physical distancing is not feasible.”
The NGCB guidelines limits craps tables to six players, poker and roulette tables to four players, and blackjack tables to three players.
MGM Resorts also intends to offer handwashing stations on the casino floor in places far from restrooms, and will frequently clean and disinfect slot machines, tables, and kiosks. Players and dealers can also access hand sanitizer at gaming tables.
Employees must wear masks and will be given daily temperature checks.
Bill Hornbuckle, interim CEO of MGM Resorts, told NJ.com that the casino’s properties “will not look the way they used to for a while, and that’s not only okay, it’s critically important.”
All Las Vegas casino operators must submit reopening plans to state gaming regulators. MGM says it will probably reopen its resorts in phases, with the Bellagio and New York-New York likely the first to resume operations, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Reopening Dates Still Uncertain as Union Negotiations Continue
The governors of both New Jersey and Nevada ordered their states’ casinos closed in March, and there is no hard date yet on when those casinos will be allowed to reopen.
NJ.com pointed out that casinos must also reach an agreement on safety protocols with their unionized workers. Unite Here, which represents nearly 11,000 Atlantic City workers, is pushing the New Jersey gaming commission to put many of these safety practices into its official guidelines, and said MGM Resorts must continue a dialogue with the union as it prepares to reopen.
“It’s good that the company is talking about it, but we need them to work in partnership with frontline workers to come up with a full plan to protect guests and workers,” Mayra Gonzalez, a line server at Borgata and a member of Unite Here, told NJ.com.