Casino emergency response plans found lacking in Nevada
December 27, 2017
LAS VEGAS — About half of the 155 casinos in Nevada that were required to file emergency response plans or updates a decade ago did not submit them, a newspaper review of documents found.
Most resorts on the densely developed Las Vegas Strip also have not updated emergency plans with the state since 2012, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
That includes the Mandalay Bay, an MGM Resorts International property where a gunman opened fire Oct. 1 with high-powered rifles from 32nd-floor windows killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more at an outdoor concert across the street.
MGM Resorts officials would not discuss why state records showed several of the company's Strip resorts have not updated their plans since 2008.
In a statement, the company said plans for MGM properties were submitted to both state and local authorities in 2008, and would be re-submitted to county officials this month, "per their request."
The newspaper found that a Nevada law enacted months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to require emergency plans has no enforcement provisions and state officials say they lack resources to review plans that are turned in.
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It found that administrators made the same arguments in 2008, when a legislative audit slammed the Division of Emergency Management for failing to properly keep track of plans for casinos, state agencies, local governments and school districts.
State emergency management chief Caleb Cage told the Review-Journal he plans to make recommendations to the Homeland Security Commission to improve the law.
The audit questioned whether the agency reviewed plans and suggested the lack of oversight was hurting the state's ability to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
The division overseen by the state Department of Public Safety responded by sending letters to casinos seeking updated emergency plans and later telling the Nevada Legislature it had corrected the problem.
A leading sponsor of the legislation, former Democratic Assemblyman John Oceguera, said the law is still relevant to catastrophic events today.
"An emergency plan covers a wide variety of incidents, including active shooters," he said.
The former North Las Vegas assistant fire chief, who now works for a government consulting firm, said the intent was to improve preparations for a terrorist attack on the Strip.
"There needs to be some teeth in the law so folks are compelled to act," Oseguera said. "A plan on a shelf is virtually useless if it's not getting to the people who need to see it and use it."
Nevada and Las Vegas emergency managers would not say whether Mandalay Bay, which last updated its emergency response plan in 2012, properly carried it out on the night of Oct. 1.
MGM Resorts said guidelines in the plan for defining roles and responsibilities during an emergency were followed.