Two months have passed since the Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas and questions are still being raised regarding how good or bad Mandalay Bay’s casino response plans were for such emergencies. Did they do too little or did they not do enough? These questions and concerns have caused a number of reviews into emergency response plans that Las Vegas casinos are supposed to have in place.
Nevada Officials Lenient In Collecting Emergency Response Plans
According to Review-Journal investigative reporters Jeff German and Anita Hassan, it’s been half a decade since key public safety officials had seen an updated emergency response plan from casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada casinos are required to file emergency response plans in accordance with state gaming laws but Las Vegas casinos in particular have been rather lax in doing so and investigation show that state officials have also been rather negligent and lenient. Mandalay Bay was among the properties that the state has been lax to review, which was where the armed sniper used with high-powered rifles on October 1 to commit was to be the most brutal attack on U.S soil which resulted in the deaths of 58 people.
Nevada Casinos Not Updating Emergency Response Plans
The state law was enacted months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. However, it lacked provisions for enforcement. According to the public safety officials, they didn’t have enough resources to review the plans offered by the casinos. In 2008, the Nevada Division of Emergency Management put forward the same argument, when a legislative audit criticized the agency for its failure to keep track of casino emergency plans as well as the plans of school districts, local governments and state agencies.
The audit probed whether the safety agency even reviewed the plans and highlighted the fact that the lack of oversight has hurt Nevada’s ability to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. Once the audit was completed, the division managed by the Department of Public Safety got into contact with casinos in order to seek emergency plan updates. The department would later inform the government that it had fixed the problem of emergency plan reviews but the auditors did not conduct a follow up to see if everything was in order.
State Audit Does Not Have Much Of An Impact
Years after the audit, state emergency authorities have implemented barely any of the improvements that the audit recommended. Most Las Vegas casinos haven’t made emergency plan updates since 2012. The law has no requirements in regards to these establishments making amendments to their response plans on an annual basis. However, any changes to these plans should be submitted to local and state authorities within three days according to the law. Given the fact that Las Vegas casinos have been under threat for the last few years, it is surprising that casino operators have not updated their emergency response plans.
According to records from the Division of Emergency Management, more than two dozen casino properties—which include The Mirage, MGM Grand, Luxor, and Caesars Palace have not revised their emergency response plans since 2008. This also includes neighborhood casinos such as Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Texas Station and Green Valley Ranch. Documents also show that about half of the 155 casinos in Nevada were required to update or file plans in 2008 but did not submit any at all.
Former Assemblyman John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas and one of the sponsors of the original legislation, said it was still relevant to this day in light of recent catastrophic events. Las Vegas and Nevada emergency authorities wouldn’t say whether Mandalay Bay, which updated its own response plan back in 2012, properly followed its emergency response plan during the Oct. 1 shooting.
According to MGM Resorts International, the company that owns Mandalay Bay, the emergency response plan’s guidelines for defining responsibilities and roles were followed during the emergency. The emergency management authorities further clarified that casino response plans weren’t etched in stone and the personnel need to adapt to different situations depending on the circumstances.
In a statement, MGM Resorts said “Emergency Response Plans for MGM properties have been on file with the Nevada Department of Public Safety for several years. They will be re-submitted to county officials this month, per their request”.
The company also confirmed it submitted its plans to both local and state authorities in 2008. However, the company officials wouldn’t talk about why state records show several of the company’s resorts at the Las Vegas Strip haven’t updated their emergency response plans since 2008.

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