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A Clean Start – What’s Next in Gaming?

The Current State

Andrew here, coming to you live from Las Vegas, where the world has essentially stopped, if you’re in the casino business that is. It’s a strange sensation, the casinos and hotels being closed. The strip is dark, except for some heartwarming messages some casinos make with the lights of their hotel rooms. Things like, “Vegas Strong” or “We Love Vegas”, or simply a large heart.

Over 90% of casino workers are sitting at home fighting with a completely overwhelmed Nevada Unemployment website. People are spending more time with their families (something that’s normally hard to do for a lot of casino workers, due to the odd hours), some are doing extra projects around the house, some are going stir crazy.

Me? I’m spending a lot of time wondering what’s next. This whole episode has caused some things to come to the front of mind that have been dormant, but ever present. Things we accepted before, me included, have revealed themselves to be worthy of change.

The Problem

For me, it started about a week before the closure. I was walking the casino floor when a friend sent me a link about how long this virus can survive on different surfaces. On many surfaces, it was multiple days. I looked up at how many people were sitting at the tables and slots. It blew my mind to think of how many people touch certain things within a two-day period: chips, slot machine buttons and handles, chairs, tabletops, glasses. It was a profound moment.

On the Saturday before the closure, it started coming out that some casinos had guests and employees that were testing positive. It was mere days before the closure. Some companies may have already announced their intentions to close. I was on the casino floor observing people. I watched cash change hands; watched chips go back and forth from one player to the dealer, then to another player, who would then hand it to his wife to hang onto. I even saw a few people put their player’s card in their mouth, one of whom then handed it to the dealer, who in turn handed it to the supervisor.

I wanted to scream, “Doesn’t anyone pay attention to the world?!”

Maybe I should have. Maybe I would have been right to do so. But then I realized, I’m part of the problem. None of the behaviors I mentioned were new. These behaviors go on every day in every casino across the country, the world even.

I thought back to my first few weeks in the casino business. After my first week or so of work, I got sick, and had a hell of a time fighting it off over the next several weeks. What I’ve since come to realize, is this happens to a lot of dealers. Presumably, it happens to other front-line employees too. It happens because of the immense number of new germs they’re exposed to. I’m not a doctor, or an expert in anyway, but I’m comfortable making this assessment.

What’s Next?

All this has led to the inevitable wonder of what might come next. I’d like to think that this event is a big enough magnitude that it will cause change. Cleanliness is something that obviously needs to be readdressed. What form this will take, or should take, I don’t claim to have the answers.

From what I’ve seen on both sides of the table, I will say that chips should be cleaned and sanitized far more often than they are. To take that further, I will also say that chip-less gaming tables seem like a more attractive idea than ever before. Having a cash-in machine at each spot seems like an attractive idea, also. Listen, I’m not an innovator. These ideas are already out there, being developed, some probably in use already. I’m just a casino guy that’s saying something should probably change.

Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to realize how filthy the business can actually be. We can certainly lessen exposure to germs. I’d like to see some changes made that prioritize protecting the health of the guests and employees. This in turn protects the health of the business overall. It can be done. And, knowing how many strong leaders there are in this business, I’m confident it will be done. Time will tell. For now, we’re all just along for the ride, until this is over. I’ll see you all on the other side.

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