Carson area casinos have been closed for over 70 days but operators say they haven’t been idly waiting for permission to reopen.
Customers can expect pretty dramatic changes as they return to their favorite restaurants, bars and gaming floors.
Those include numerous signs, including on the floors to control who goes where and how close they come to each other, plexiglass shields and sanitizer stations.
The Carson Nugget, Casino Fandango, the Max, Carson Valley Inn, Bodines, Slotworld and Sharkey’s in Minden-Gardnerville are all planning to reopen most if not all of their operations on Thursday, June 4, the first day casinos are allowed to resume operation.
Most plan to open at 6 a.m. that day. Sharkey’s and Bodines will wait until 7 a.m.
All have been getting their facilities ready in anticipation of reopening, an effort that required different levels of changes to the layout of slots, table games, restaurants and bars.
It also gave all a chance to take care of deferred maintenance and do some serious deep cleaning of everything.
The other major task, as Fandango manager Court Cardinal put it, is “we’ve got to get our furloughed employees unfurloughed.”
That process, required training staff in the new rules imposed by gaming regulators including new cleaning processes, sanitization and social distancing, according to Edye Kaplan of the Max Casino.
All the casino officials say employees will all wear masks and practice frequent sanitization. And all will provide masks for customers who want them.
Probably the most dramatic changes will be at the Carson Nugget that CEO Dean DiLullo says has undergone a complete remodel since the governor ordered casinos closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“We spent a ton of money to modernize the Carson Nugget during the lockdown,” he said.
That includes painting, a completely new slot machine system, new sports bar near the entrance, a new Winner’s Club and deep cleaning of kitchens and everything else in the building. They also took the opportunity to repair and re-stripe all the surrounding parking lots.
Alatte Café will be open daily as will Angelinas with the Gourmet Room open Friday and Saturday.
“If you walk into the Nugget, you would not recognize it,” he said.
The Nugget, oldest of Carson City’s major casino properties, is celebrating its 66th year with the reopening.
To kick it off, DiLullo said the Nugget is running a $66,000 Gold and Silver giveaway to celebrate that anniversary. The Nugget is also introducing the Awful Awful Express where customers get their meal within 30 minutes of ordering or it’s free.
At Casino Fandango, one of the capital’s newer properties, Cardinal said the shut down was a perfect time to do a lot of deferred maintenance that’s hard to accomplish in a 24/7 business.
That means new kitchen floors, replacement of bar and counter tops and deep cleaning of everything among other improvements.
Because of the Fandango’s floor plan, they’ve had their premier restaurant, Duke’s Steakhouse, open for two weeks. The trick is they could give customers access to the restaurant from an outside door on Curry Street without them having to walk through the casino to get there. Regulators have never explained the ban on walking through a casino when all they have to do is unplug the slot machines.
Cardinal said he was very pleased with the customer response to opening the steakhouse.
When they opened Duke’s, “we were packed.”
He said they will be doing non-invasive temperature screening as customers enter Fandango and there are plexiglass shields at the cage, the cashier and other places to protect customers and staff.
All restaurants will be open except the buffet.
“I’m not sure we’ll see buffets again,” he said.
Cardinal said the other service that won’t be back anytime soon is valet parking because of the same health safety concerns.
He said slot capacity will be about 50 percent but that there will be far fewer counter and bar stools.
Cardinal said they are also ready to honor the gift cards customers have been winning through their online games at the Fandango website during the shut down.
“We’ve given away thousands of dollars in instant Amazon gift cards,” he said.
He said the layout of his slot pods is such that less modifications to the floor plan were required to accommodate social distancing than other casinos.
Joey Whitacre, marketing director for CVI, Sharkey’s, Bodines and Slot World, said the Jackpot Café in Sharkey’s has been open for a week. It too has a separate entrance. He said the restaurants at CVI, SlotWorld and Bodines will open on June 4 as will the bars in all four of their properties
At CVI, they are taking reservations now. The main hotel RV Resort and Convenience Store at CVI remain open. The motor Lodge, Whitacre said, will open when there is demand for it. They are taking reservations and convention center bookings are also being taken for groups of up to 50 people.
Beginning June 4, he said sports bets will be taken and race wagering is available at CVI and Bodines
“We look forward to seeing you all again and ask for your patience as we all wade through the ‘adventure’ of the new way of doing things,” he said.
Kaplan said the Max, which has undergone fairly recent remodeling when it was purchased from Clark Russell, has also set up hand sanitization stations throughout with health signage at each entrance and the staff has been trained in the new health procedures.
They will provide queuing for guest services, ATMs and William Hill remote betting services.
She said they will continue to reward players with point multipliers and promotional staples including Senior Day and Midnight Madness.
The Black Bear Diner, she said, is open 8-8 daily and beverage service is available in the Cabaret Lounge.
The Wyndham Garden Hotel will open June 5.