LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- As Las Vegas Strip properties roll out plans to reopen, a casino dealer spoke to FOX5 about the changes she wants to see before going back to work.
“We need our cash cleaned, we need chips cleaned, we need people cleaned - your hands,” Kanie Kastroll said. “Our union has been asking for masks since January.”
Kastroll is part of the gaming union UAW and has been a dealer at Wynn Las Vegas for 15 years.
“A lot of my coworkers are nervous, but we have been nervous for months,” Kastroll said dealers noticed what was happened at casinos as coronavirus spread overseas.
“We’re afraid,” she said. “The workers are afraid and we really pray that we get some sort of vaccine.”
So for Kastroll, when the Strip shut down, it was a relief.
“We were relieved to be out of that building because we were so afraid of catching something from our customers or each other.”
Wynn Resorts has continued to pay its employees their salaries plus average tips. It was also one of the first Strip properties to release its plan to reopen.
“It seemed like a pretty thorough plan,” Kastroll said.
On top of social distancing and extra cleaning, the resort said it will add thermal cameras and more training for staff.
“The red flag for we, dealers, is that we cannot have second-hand smoke or smoking at any worksite anymore,” Kastroll said.
She said that’s a change she wants to see at all Strip properties and something that her union has been fighting for, for years now.
“Smoking kills and now with COVID-19, it’s another example of how smoking kills,” Kastroll referenced studies that suggest smoking exasperates coronavirus symptoms.
She added she would not feel comfortable returning to work until testing is increased valley-wide.
“We need to know what our numbers are,” she said.
Guidelines from the Nevada Gaming Control Board will only allow casinos to operate at 50% capacity.
“Generally, the casinos pay minimum wage or slightly above it,” Kastroll said. “Then the majority of it, 85% of your income, is from tips, so if we’re slow on business, it’s hard to make up our salary.”
Kastroll wants to see her regulars again, but only when she can do so safely.
“Which is better? To stay home? Stay home is safer,” she said. “Everybody is wanting to work. Everybody is wanting to make a living. But you don’t want to die for it.”
In a March interview, former MGM CEO Jim Murren weighed in on the future of smoking at Strip properties. He told FOX5 he cannot speak for gaming companies, but with designated areas already in place, smoke-free casinos could become a reality.
“We have so many guests particularly from Asia that find that is an important element for their gaming experience,” he said. “We are always looking for non-smoking areas. We’ve gone non-smoking in multiple venues in the resorts and I think that over time, we’ll gravitate toward that.”
Murren currently leads the state’s coronavirus task force.