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Critics give Control Board earful over COVID-19 policies for gaming

Nevada Gaming Control Board members were chastised on Wednesday by a group of critics of the state’s COVID-19 policies at the board’s July meeting in Carson City.

During the board’s regular public comment period designed to elicit remarks about gaming policy, 12 people paraded before the board and asked Board Chairman Brin Gibson to rescind all policies related to encouraging vaccinations to fight the virus, the wearing of masks by casino employees and support for vaccine passports.

The control board, acting within the authority granted to it by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s emergency health measures, issued notices to gaming licensees in April and May, but most of the early mandates from the board already have been rescinded or relaxed.

The board has never mandated the issuance of vaccine passports, a proposal to require documentation of an individual receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

During the 45 minutes of comments, most of those addressing the board denounced the need for vaccinations, said actions taken by the board were unconstitutional and illegal, and criticized comments, recommendations and policies from Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s lead adviser on infectious diseases.

One speaker urged board members to deny “fake Fauci science,” while another said the board’s actions to fight the spread of COVID-19 were “diabolical, outrageous and tyrannical to say the least.”

The group also bashed Sisolak for directing regulators to do his bidding.

Among the speakers was Reno criminal justice attorney Joey Gilbert, who said he represented hundreds of front-line casino workers who aren’t happy with the board’s suggestions regarding vaccinations and mask-wearing. On May 19, in preparation for the state opening up to 100 percent capacity on June 1, Gibson issued an industry notice requiring the wearing of facial coverings indoors on gaming floors.

Gibson was courteous to speakers throughout the session and while he encouraged the group to find one speaker to summarize the group’s concerns and pleaded with the group to observe a three-minute time limit on comments — few of them did that — comments continued after the meeting’s opening.

Gibson did not respond to a request for comment about criticisms from the crowd later Wednesday.

Most of the group was reacting to a notice to licensees issued jointly April 2 by Gibson and Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman John Moran.

In that memo, Gibson and Moran supported casino companies’ efforts to provide paid time off for vaccination opportunities, arranging transportation for employees to public vaccination sites and contracting with private vendors to administer vaccines at casino workplaces.

The critics said the strategy amounted to regulators using coercion to force vaccinations on employees.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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