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Gaming Control Board prepares reopening plan

Officials from the Nevada Gaming Control Board have released a policy memorandum laying out reopening procedures for gaming establishments, once they are deemed safe to resume operations, due to statewide closures related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On March 17, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses in Nevada to cease operations in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The order went into effect at midnight that night.

As stated in the April 21 memorandum, Nevada Gaming Control Board member and Attorney Terry Johnson said the board compiled a list of procedures that should at minimum, be considered and addressed, but are not intended to be all-encompassing.

The memorandum went on to state that other steps may be necessary and should be determined on an individual basis, and in consultation with the board as necessary.

“A reopening plan must be established and emailed to the audit division of the control board,” the memorandum stated. “An additional copy should be emailed to the enforcement division. Note that the reopening plan is not intended to serve as a vehicle for requesting required approvals or waivers, unless otherwise specified in the policy memorandum. Separate letters should be sent to the appropriate board divisions for waiver requests.”

The deadlines

The plan, according to the memo, must be submitted at least seven days before reopening occurs or as soon as reasonably possible thereafter.

Additionally, all procedures performed during the reopening process must be in compliance with the minimum internal control standards.

Reopening plans must also address particular items for each property, as applicable, including contact information of the person coordinating the reopening activity, as well as the notification of the reopening date and time, as well as identification of the gaming, entertainment and club venue areas that will be reopened.

“Venue areas are to be phased in, then the anticipated reopening dates and times for each area must be specified,” the memo stated. “Any changes made to a licensee’s gaming day must also be specified. A schedule for the replenishment of funds, including cash, chips and tokens, in all areas of casino accountability, must be established, along with an indication of the responsible department.”

Taxing issues

The board’s tax and license division, the memo stated, should be contacted regarding any questions that are specifically related to filing tax and fee forms.

“Procedures and verifications must be performed to ensure that all liabilities to patrons are correctly accounted for and reconciled from the time of the temporary closure to the time of reopening, including but not limited to incremental progressive amounts,” the memo stated in part.

Pay up

As some payout receipts and wagering vouchers may have expired during the temporary closure, the memo states that licensees must take measures to pay the liabilities or extend the expiration dates to accommodate the period the property was closed.

“Consequently, the redemption period requirements are administratively approved to be extended to 30 days after the governor authorizes reopening of gaming operations,” according to the memo. “Furthermore, the revenue reporting requirements are also extended to 30 days after the governor authorizes reopening of gaming operations. Additionally, the reporting requirement is extended to the quarter following the quarter the governor authorizes reopening on gaming operations.”

Additionally, licensees must also ensure that other payments owed to patrons are paid when submitted for payment.

“Any expiration dates that such liabilities have, either through regulatory requirement or through a licensee’s internal policy advised to patrons, must be extended to include the time period the property was closed,” the memo noted. The “cash on hand” bankroll requirement of the board as calculated by the board’s prescribed bankroll formula, is waived for a period of seven days after the governor authorizes the reopening of gaming operations. However, licensees who reopen are still expected to comply with the “next business day” funds requirement during this seven-day period. The Audit and Tax and License Divisions, as applicable, should be contacted for any questions regarding this administrative waiver.

Full compliance

The memo also states that if the temporary closure impeded a licensee’s ability to perform certain required procedures, violations will not be cited.

“Instead, those procedures will be administratively waived,” according to the memo,” “Contact the audit division or the tax and license division, as applicable, if additional clarification is needed. Licensees and club venue operators must be in full compliance with all applicable surveillance standards and the surveillance system and camera coverage should be checked by licensees to ensure proper functioning prior to the commencement of live gaming. Additionally, the DVR system used for surveillance should be tested to ensure full-screen review, data with time and date superimposed, 30 images per second, the media player has necessary software to view images, and watermark verification software.”

Employee concerns

Upon reopening, licensees and club venue operators will be responsible for reviewing the list of expired gaming employee registrations for their property.

“Employees whose gaming registrations have expired during the closure may work for up to 30 days while they renew their registrations. The enforcement division will not take any regulatory action against licensees for expired gaming registrations, as long as all applicable renewal applications are submitted via the board’s online registration system within 30 days of the reopening date. This exemption is only for renewal applications. New registration applications must be submitted prior to commencing work in a gaming position.”

The memo went to state that if a gaming business has already terminated, laid off, or furloughed employees in the board’s system, and they subsequently return to work at the time of reopening, the board will offer a one-time option to administratively reinstate employees at their respective location in the board’s system.

“Please communicate any affected employees to the enforcement division,” the memo stated. “Employees must have been previously registered at your location, separated from service due to the COVID-19 closures, and must be reinstated within 60 days of your date of reopening. If you communicate the list of affected employees to the board, you will not need to perform any transactions in the online registration system. The board will reactivate those employees at your location, and they will show on your registered employee list in the online registration system the following day.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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