Mask Violations at Nevada Tavern Would Carry $10K Fine, Law Profs Say Insufficient

By | August 25, 2021

Two gaming law professors question whether a proposed $10,000 fine against Carson City, Nev. saloon, Timbers, is a sufficient penalty for its alleged second round of face mask violations. Regulators have the option to take away the establishment’s gaming license.

Bette Larsen was identified as the owner of Timbers
Timbers, a Carson City, Nev. tavern, pictured above. The establishment may be fined $10,000 for alleged face mask violations. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) backed the fine amount proposed by the state Attorney General’s office.

It needs to be reviewed by the Nevada Gaming Commission before it is issued. The tavern was fined $5,000 last year for similar violations.

When asked for comments, Robert Jarvis, a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law, said he applauds the NGCB taking action.

“It’s important for everyone to do their part to stop the spread of COVID, especially now that the Delta variant is bringing hospitals to their knees and the potential exists for even deadlier variants to emerge if we do not get on top of this disease,” Jarvis told

Owner Has No Excuse

Bette Larsen was identified as the owner of Timbers. She was informed of state regulations last year.

Larsen had clear notice of what the law required — due to her first violation,” Jarvis said.  “There is therefore no excuse for her failing to make sure that her employees and patrons were masked up.”

In fact, he said the Attorney General and the NGCB “should have been much tougher on Larsen.  Indeed, it would be interesting to know why they think a $10,000 fine will cause Larsen to change her ways when a $5,000 fine did not.”

Following the second offense, Jarvis said he “would have moved to have Larsen’s license revoked.  Having a license is a privilege, and I think Larsen has made it clear by her actions — or rather, her inactions — that she is not a suitable person to have a license.”

Fine Amount Leads To Surprise

Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, concurs.

“A tavern location that decides to ignore the state requirements for masks and social distances faces significant discipline. I am surprised that the Gaming Control Board only seeks a $10,000 fine for this second offense.”

If this was a second offense and an intentional disregarding of the requirements, the penalty could have been more severe — suspension or revocation — and the warning to other bars and taverns sterner that they cannot violate regulations based on their opinions regarding public health matters.”

The new proposed fine comes from a May 5 inspection by a NGCB agent at Timbers. He saw between 20 and 30 patrons allegedly not wearing face masks, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Nor were the visitors socially distanced, the report said. Also, three bar employees failed to wear masks, the agent claimed. Statewide face mask requirements were in effect at that time.

Last year, the first complaint from the NGCB included a fine of $5,000 against Timbers. It related to violations of the mask requirements during an August, 2020 inspection.

It is unclear why Larsen was not requiring masks. The bar’s website on Wednesday said, “Mask required.” It also says the establishment offers bar games.

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