Las Vegas Execs Consider Re-Opening Casinos With Precautions

Casino executives from competing firms are debating informally what Las Vegas would be like when one of the largest tourist destinations in the U.S. reopen to visitors.

Potentially, the discussions included allowing small businesses off the popular Strip to open first, so local residents could get back to work, according to people familiar with Bloomberg’s talks. The executives have mentioned opening facilities nearby so that all casino workers — and maybe even visitors — could get coronavirus testing.

For as little as a one-third of their rooms available, the town will open its casinos. Entrances would be restricted, and temperatures of guests would be tested using non-invasive methods. Casino workers would wear masks and gloves, and blackjack tables would have gamblers seated at least one chair apart.

The moves are similar to what is already happening in Macau, the biggest gambling market in the world, where casinos closed in February for 15 days and reopened under tight restrictions.

The companies are still talking about improved cleaning methods, which unions have called for. The secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Geoconda Arguello-Kline said last week that, “We’re asking the companies to have more cleaning everywhere — the rooms, casino, special teams to work with new chemical,” and that the casinos “have to have more people, so the people can have the area more clean.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, ordered all state casinos to close by mid-March for 30 days to avoid coronavirus spreading. He extended the order until April 30, but on Tuesday the state said the limitations were not even close to ending.

“This is not going to be a political decision for me, as for when to open,” he said. “I don’t have an exact number. I’ll take a lot of advice from our medical folks and determine what’s in the best interest of keeping all Nevadans safe,” he said.

While Nevada has hundreds of casinos, a handful of companies control the action on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts.

Last week, a call to Harrah’s-Las Vegas found that all of Las Vegas’ Caesars properties, including Harrah’s-Las Vegas, The LINQ Hotel & Casino, Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas and The Cromwell, are making reservations for May 1, as stated by the Laughlin Nevada Times.

Reservations for MGM properties, including Bellagio (owned by the Blackstone Group and leased by MGM Resorts International), CityCenter (50 percent joint partnership with Dubai World), Aria Resort & Casino, Vdara, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Delano Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, MGM Grand Las Vegas, MGM Grand Garden Arena, The Mirage, New York-New York, are also approved.

Estimates put the revenue losses from the state up to a possible $40 billion in lost income from gambling and transversely the tax revenue from that amount that will go to Nevada. The gaming industry is the leading source of tax base revenue for Nevada, followed by tourism and the mining industry, and the loss of those gaming revenues could spell some tough times for Nevada if the closures go on for much longer.