Focus Gaming News speaks to Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
US.- The majority of large casinos have reopened after the Covid-19 pandemic caused gaming in Las Vegas to come to a halt for the first time in history.
Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, speaks to Focus Gaming News about how operators have adapted.
With 2,000 licensees, including 400 larger casinos, Nevada is one of the undisputed capitals of gaming.
Morgan recognises the unprecedented closure of casinos brought by the pandemic was a shock for the state, but praised how operators responded to the crisis.
She said about 90 per cent of larger properties have now reopened and that things are picking up, with revenues for the month of June at around 50 per cent normal levels.
“I’m very proud of Nevada that we worked with the healthcare system to know that when we invited visitors back to the state we were able to care for them.”Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Morgan said Nevadans were keen to support their local gaming establishments with traffic from California and Arizona had been strong, although mid-week numbers are now seeing the pinch due to the lack of conventions.
While non-gaming revenue has exceeded gaming revenue in recent years, Morgan says the pandemic has turned things back to the traditional, core gaming business.
“We’ve seen it going back to the traditional gaming tables, gaming machines,” she said.
“In some areas in Nevada the gaming revenues for June of 2020 exceeded June 2019. In some areas more people are gambling because there’s just not enough to do.”
“Licensees are making sure we continue to be the gold standard”Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
She said the vast majority of gaming licensees are taking health and safety guidelines extremely seriously.
“They’ve put into place practices and procedures that I’ve shared with schools and other industries because they’re really making sure that we continue to be the gold standard of regulation.
“They know that if we’re to excel at customer service, they have to make customers happy, and now happy means safe.
“I think that comes along with the general hospitality people expect: that when you come to Las Vegas, and you come to Nevada, you’ll be taken care of.”
Due to the vast number of properties in the state, other divisions outside of enforcement have assisted with inspections to ensure properties are following protocols.
Morgan says businesses have the tools they need to ensure people comply with the rules and the vast majority of operators had complied with hygiene requirements.
“We’ve looked at what the board can do to give some relief to operators.”Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Morgan said the board had also proposed a change in regulation to grant it some regulatory authority to allow certain businesses to stay closed or to have flexibility with their obligations in terms of opening hours.
This has allowed some operators to take the decision now to reopen all of their properties.
The board also took steps to allow properties to pay taxes on only one table game or machine while closed.
“We’ve seen more operators embrace cashless wagering.”Sandra Douglass Morgan, Chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Another aspect of the pandemic was how it highlighted the benefits of cashless gaming.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board had already made a decision in February to allow debit card payments at tables, something that has become all the more relevant with the need to reduce contact points.
“I’m proud to say we were already on that trajectory and Covid made everything expedite very quickly,” Morgan said.
On the issue of innovation, Morgan highlighted a challenge launched by the University of Nevada Las Vegas to find proposals for how casinos can innovate to bounce back from the pandemic. The call has received around 250 submissions.
“I’m really hopefully the UNLV Lee Business School competition will really bring to the forefront some solutions for our operators,” Morgan said.