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A security guard welcomes and hands a few face masks to patrons at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino after reopening its doors at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Mikayla Whitmore/The Nevada Independent)

The encouragement for casino patrons to wear face masks just got stronger.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued an industry notice Wednesday with an updated health and safety policy. It adds requirements casinos must follow regarding face masks without outright mandating them for guests. 

But if patrons want to play table or card games that don’t have any sort of barrier separating them from the dealer, they’ll need to don a face mask. That’s one of the new requirements in the policy, and it applies to players and anyone else within six feet of the table or card game.

Properties must also offer all guests a face covering as they enter the casino or have “dedicated signage” alerting patrons to the availability of the personal protective equipment, according to the policy update. And if anyone asks for one, it must be provided.

The policy update also notes that personal protective equipment may be required by federal, state or local authorities, and if so, casinos must provide training for employees on how to use and dispose of it.

As nonrestricted licensees, casinos must adhere to the regulations set forth by the Gaming Control Board or risk facing discipline or revocation of their licenses.

The changes come amid an increase in COVID-19 cases across the state and an acknowledgment by state officials — including Gaming Control Board Chair Sandra Douglass Morgan — that people appeared to be easing up on mask use despite growing evidence that they can prevent the spread of the life-threatening virus.

Douglass Morgan told The Nevada Independent during an interview Monday that she had noticed a decline in the number of people wearing face masks since casinos were allowed to reopen June 4. She urged people to act responsibly in the age of the coronavirus.

“Our patrons need to be responsible and respect and follow the guidelines if they want to come back in three or six months or a year,” she said.

The Gaming Control Board on Wednesday also issued a policy outlining guidelines for hosting a closed event at gaming properties. It applies to any live event that would normally have an in-person audience, such as sporting events, concerts, entertainment shows or other competitions.

The event operator must file an operation plan to the Gaming Control Board 14 days prior to the event. That plan must detail the steps being taken to follow the requirements outlined in the closed event policy.

Gaming regulators noted that additional policy updates may be forthcoming as the pandemic evolves.

“In conjunction with state and local health officials, the Board will continue to ensure that best practices are used in the mitigation of COVID-19, and its effect on the resumption of gaming operations, and will issue further notices as appropriate,” the industry notice states.

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