By Kayla Anderson

Two months ago, El Capitan Casino closed down due to the coronavirus, and ever since General Manager Glenn Carns has been holding down the fort hoping it all would pass soon so that his 50-60 furloughed employees could come back to work.
Fortunately, last week Governor Steve Sisolak told Nevadans that casinos could reopen starting on June 4 as long as they could abide by the new public health and safety protocols set by the Nevada Gaming Commission, and immediately after the announcement casinos statewide got busy reconfiguring their spaces for the public. At 9 a.m. on June 4, El Capitan will open its doors again.
“We plan to open the casino at 9 a.m. (on June 4) and at 3:30 p.m. we’re opening the restaurant,” Carns says. “There are definitely some machines that will be down to recognize social distancing,” he adds, explaining that slot machines were moved into areas that were underutilized and/or taken out to create extra distance between gamblers. Under the new health laws, El Capitan will be cleaning its slot machines all day long, after every use, and wiping down counters and touchpoint surfaces constantly.
The casino took its restaurant seating from 102 spots down to 42 and opened up another room that can seat 16 or so guests. The restaurant plans on being open daily from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then from 3:30 to 9 p.m., re-cleaning and sanitizing everything again between shift changes.
“We want to give ourselves plenty of time to clean and keep things moving,” Carns says. “With everything going on, as they say, ‘you can’t clean enough right now’.”
Most of Carns’ time lately has been spent reconnecting with its employees, trying to track them down and get them to come back to work. Most of their staff will be back but will have to be retrained and prepare to get tested and wear masks at all times during their shift. Judging from the Facebook comments, people are thrilled about the news of El Capitan’s reopening.
“People are excited to come back here. They will see how we’ve rearranged the floor; before we had this lounge area that was never used and now slot machines are up against the wall. The only thing that hasn’t changed is at the bar itself- there we will shut off every other machine,” Carns says, to create social distancing.
Before, the Travelodge that was next to the casino was also operating at around a 20-30 percent capacity, catering to traveling nurses and truck drivers. Now that other businesses are starting to open up people are starting to travel more, and the Travelodge is at about 40 percent full.
“We’re starting to see more travel and saw a nice little pick up at the hotel. I think people are still being cautious though as there are zero active (coronavirus) cases in the community right now. I’m just excited to get back open,” he says.
Since El Capitan closed, Carns says that Hawthorne experienced two major earthquakes; he was inside the casino when the 6.5-magnitude earthquake started near Tonopah on May 15.
“That one really shook the building, it happened fast, and I was the only one here,” he says. Carns was always at El Capitan during the entirety of the closure keeping an eye on the building, and although some strange things have happened over the last two months, he’d rather be open with customers around.
So right now, with news of their upcoming reopening, Carns is getting El Capitan ready to go…getting food delivered for the restaurant on Thursday, getting staff retrained, rewiring the slot machines back into the system, and “then firing it all up,” as Carns says.
“I’m excited to welcome everybody back and get a little bit of the new normalcy in again; we can get people back to work and the economy going,” he adds.
For more information about El Capitan Casino, visit

Cutline: The casino floor at the El Capitan has been reconfigured a bit in an effort to maintain social distancing when the property opens Thursday.