Social Distance Slots: MGM National Harbor Lays Out Plan for Reopening

NBC Universal, Inc.

Playing the slots or sitting at a blackjack table will look much different at MGM National Harbor once it's allowed to reopen.

MGM Resorts International released its health and safety plan Tuesday for reopening its casinos in Las Vegas and the National Harbor.

"The safety of our employees and our customers is paramount and we've gone through quite a bit of the protocols in getting ready to do that," MGM's acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a phone interview with the Today Show.

Checking employee's temperatures, requiring employees to wear face masks, installing hand washing stations, prohibiting eating on the casino floor and keeping people 6 feet apart are among the company's "Seven-Point Safety Plan" protocols.

"It's not perfect, but, look, we've taken a lot of guidance from medical experts," Hornbuckle said.

With the closing of Maryland's casinos, the state, Prince George's County and National Harbor have lost millions upon millions in revenue.

"I know it's time to get back. We're looking forward to it, but we certainly want to do it safely," said Kent Digby, the executive vice president of National Harbor


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Digby says MGM is a vital part of National Harbor's success and a safe reopening is crucial.

"We won't get back to where we were before until you're allowed to have big conventions again, and to where MGM is full and lively and the rest of National Harbor is hopping with all the restaurants full," Digby said.

MGM National Harbor's 3,300 employees were furloughed. A spokesperson says its too early to say whether all of those employees will come back or not once Maryland gives the green light to reopen.

Read MGM's full "Seven-Point Safety Plan" below:

  1. Screening, temperature checks and employee training: Employee-screening measures will assess signs and symptoms of infection and whether the employee resides or cares for someone who has recently been diagnosed with the virus. Employees are currently and will continue to go through temperature checks before entering properties. Guests will be asked to abide by a similar self-screening protocol before arriving and during their stay.
  2. Mandatory masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): All employees will be provided and required to wear an approved mask. MGM will also strongly encourage guests to wear masks in public areas and offer masks to any guests who need one, free of charge. Drink service: MGM will ask guests to minimize the amount of time they remove their masks when drinking on the casino floor. Eating: MGM will ask guests to refrain from eating on the casino floor to minimize the amount of time masks are removed.
  3. Physical distancing: A 6-foot physical distancing policy will be in place, wherever feasible, with floor guides serving as reminders throughout MGM Resorts properties. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in areas throughout casinos and lobbies, where appropriate, for the safety of guests and employees. Signage will also be installed throughout to guide employees and guests on how to safely practice physical distancing.
  4. Hand washing and sanitizing: MGM says it will continue using cleaning products in accordance with EPA guidelines for coronaviruses, bacteria and other infectious pathogens. Electrostatic sprayers will be used in many large areas to allow us to apply disinfectant more efficiently. In addition, handwashing stations with soap and water, and hand-sanitizing stations, will be readily available in high-traffic areas and with a visible presence.
  5. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Controls and air quality: MGM says it has taken rigorous measures in accordance with established guidelines to help mitigate the risk of virus transmission. "As scientific information becomes available about the virus, and as additional guidance from state and local authorities and our medical experts evolve, we will continue to review and adjust the operation of our HVAC systems," the company said.
  6. Incident response protocols: If a guest or employee tests positive for the virus, MGM says it will activate protocols to ensure the infected individual has access to medical treatment, exposed areas are thoroughly sanitized and, when possible, notify those who may have come in close, prolonged contact with the infected individual. MGM Resorts has medical and security personnel on staff to respond quickly in the event of an incident.
  7. Digital innovations: Guests will have the ability to complete the check-in process entirely themselves through the MGM Resorts mobile app. If preferred, physical keys will be available through self-serve key encoders. Employees will be available for guests who prefer check-in without using their mobile device, while still maintaining a line-reduced environment. Digital menus will be available to view on personal mobile devices via QR code. Virtual queues will be in place for guests when immediate seating is unavailable. Guests will receive a text message notification when their table is ready.

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