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Area casinos back in business

The beeps, bells and dings of slot machines are silent no more as casino operations returned to Southern Nevada on June 4 after a 78-day absence caused by the statewide closure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s very nice to be open again,” said Joe DeSimone, owner of Railroad Pass Casino at the northwest border of Boulder City. “It’s good to see everybody.”

Steve Schneider, of Henderson, who was among the first to visit, said he’s glad to see the casino reopen.

“I’ve missed it,” he said.

A regular player, Schneider said the changes to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 didn’t seem out of place or too restrictive.

Everyone has to have their temperature taken before entering the casino, and those with temperatures 100.0 F or above will not be admitted.

Face coverings are recommended and are available at casino entrances to those who request them.

DeSimone said restrictions on occupancy numbers should not affect casino operations. He said they are allowed to have 450 people in the casino at one time and it’s rare when the gaming floor is that crowded.

The biggest challenge for him is for couples who want to play slot machines side by side. Because of social distancing requirements, about half of the machines have been turned off and chairs removed after he had made a “concerted effort to add more” slots on the casino floor. He said it’s not simple to just turn a slot machine on and off to accommodate people’s wishes.

They did, however, try to make sure a variety of games were offered and will continue to offer a variety of promotions to players, he said.

DeSimone said he used to the time they were closed to thoroughly clean the property and transform the former retail store space into the Pennywise area with 45 penny slot machines.

The projects allowed DeSimone to keep a “significant” number of staff members working.

The closure also delayed the start of the property’s new tower project, “But we’re moving along. Hopefully we’re weeks not months from starting,” he said.

Though the statewide closure affected the casino, hotel and restaurant operations, DeSimone said they were able to keep their truck stop/travel center open.

“We had the best two months when the casino was closed,” he said, adding it was heartening to keep all the employees there.

He said he was especially glad to welcome back his casino staff members.

“It was good to see them in this environment and not at the grocery store,” he said. “I’m used to seeing them.”

The casino and cafe were the first to open at Railroad Pass; the hotel opened Wednesday.

At the moment, DeSimone said the steakhouse and buffet remain closed. The steakhouse, however, is set to reopen July 1.

Hoover Dam Lodge at the southeast border of Boulder City also resumed operations June 4. Everything at the hotel and casino, with the exception of the pool, gym and laundry room, are open.

In addition to the main casino, Hoover Dam Lodge houses several themed casinos, which also feature dining options.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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