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Las Vegas casinos rush to vaccinate employees, new memo reveals capacity limit incentive

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Posted at 9:15 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-07 10:33:08-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A slew of Las Vegas casinos have announced steps to ensure their employees have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, and a newly released memo from the Gaming Control Board points to incentives and possible punishment for operators who fail to act.

According to a memo released by the board late Friday afternoon, the plan is based on Gov. Steve Sisolak's Roadmap to Recovery as the state prepares to transfer more control to local leaders starting May 1.

"Consideration by the (Gaming Control) board to increase gaming floor occupancy will only be taken in cases where licensees have taken measurable and material steps to vaccinate and thereby protect their workforce, visitors and the community" reads part of the memo.

The document details the dangers of COVID-19 variants and hints at 'action' against gaming operators that put short-term gains over the well-being of their employees.

"They made it clear to the casino operators that they will comply or they will not get what they want," explained Anthony Curtis of LasVegasAdvisor.com

Curtis says the casino capacity constraints are a big bargaining chip.

"I think the topic is so sensitive that Gaming (Control Board) wants to make sure that they have all the bases covered and capacity is a lot of leverage for them," said Curtis.

"Capacity is sort of number one when it comes to recovery for the casinos and most businesses, so they can use that capacity card as leverage to make sure they get their way, and their way if the vaccine," added Curtis.

Hospitality workers were identified as a priority group for the vaccine, along side front line first responders and seniors.

"We applaud the hospitality industry," said Geoconda Arguello-Kline with the Culinary Union.

"Right now, I've been working with the governor's office, really close, to have these vaccinations for the hospitality workers and now to see the hospitality industry facilitating with a vaccination site and their casinos it's really helpful," added Arguello-Kline.

There has been a push by casino operators to vaccinate their employees, and in some cases, their family members and household members.

The announcements accompanied press releases hours after social media reports of the contents of the Gaming Control Board memo, first reported by the twitter account Vital Vegas.

The memo was not publicly released until Friday afternoon.

Read the full board memo here.

This article was written by Joe Bartels for KTNV.