Casinos not gambling with patron health

By By Justin B. Phillips / American Press

On most nights, casinos are filled with

visitors looking to grab dinner or maybe win big on a slot machine or

table game.

Throughout the building, levers are pulled, dice are thrown,

buttons are pressed and chips pass from hand to hand. With flu

season typically reaching its peak around January and February,

this could easily be a recipe for disaster in most venues.

At L’Auberge, a priority is placed on cleanliness, no matter the

time of year.

Kerry Andersen, director of public relations and public affairs for Pinnacle Entertainment, said the casino has always placed

an emphasis on cleanliness, and the peak of flu season is no different.

“Obviously we want to ensure germs

aren’t spread, but cleanliness no matter what has always been our

focus,” Andersen said.

“We have a full-time building and grounds crew whose sole purpose

is to maintain the cleanliness of the facility. That’s just

part of our standards.”

Flu season typically runs from October to May, and health officials say it isn’t too late for people to get their flu shots.

In a casino with several restaurants, a bustling gaming floor and hundreds of hotel rooms, Andersen said, there has always

been an emphasis on detail.

“Many places have their own policies and procedures,” she said. Since

we’re a world-class resort, we strive for cleanliness, and that

includes railings, machines, public areas,” Andersen

said. “There are hand sanitizer wipes available on the gaming

floor. A lot of these things are standard industry requirements.”

Even though visitors to the casino may not see a machine get wiped down as soon as someone vacates the seat, Andersen said

the process is done in a timely manner. The process stretches past the ringing machines and rolling dice. It even involves

the restaurant employees and hotel workers.

“When you take into account the

restaurants, they are going to have even more standards to follow. All

of the employees in

our restaurants go through training for food handling and

cleanliness,” Andersen said. “Even our laundry is meticulously cleaned.

The employees who deal with the laundry have a college they go to

get certified in how to properly clean the laundry. It’s

a very lengthy and intense certification process.”

There are steps casino visitors can

take long before walking into the lobby to cut down the odds of catching

the flu. Some

of the steps health officials say to follow during the flu season

include washing your hands often with soap and water or

an alcohol-based hand rub; avoid touching your eyes, nose or

mouth; try to avoid close contact with sick people; and cover

your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Lifestyle tips include getting plenty of sleep, managing stress,

drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthy food.

Officials also say that if you are

healthy and come in contact with someone with the flu, antiviral

medications can help.

Antiviral drugs are 70 percent to 90 percent effective at

preventing the flu. If you’re sick with flulike symptoms, officials

say to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone

without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Andersen said the bottom line for

resorts like L’Auberge is they would not be open if not for passing the

proper health code

requirements. The process is strenuous and includes everything

from inspections to secret shoppers who visit the casino and

report on the venue’s cleanliness.

“Even in the back of the house, we have

procedures for employees. There are also hand sensitizers for them to

use,” Andersen

said. “Not only for cleanliness but for customer courtesy. A lot

of our practices are similar to other big resorts like Disney.”

Even with local residents concerned

about spending time in crowded places like casinos because it is flu

season, Andersen

said they can rest assured. She said she is confident L’Auberge

visitors will be enjoying their time in the cleanest environment

possible.

“We have dedicated team members ensuring that the resort is the cleanest it can possibly be,” Andersen said. “I’m very proud

of the cleanliness of our resort. I’d put it up against any place, even Disney. And that’s what they’re known for.”