Gaming analysts and executives are hopeful as a COVID vaccine is now beginning to circulate and are looking at a potential return to pre-coronavirus levels in 2022. It would dramatically exceed previous expectations if this holds true, as some industry experts have previously asserted that a return to normal levels in Las Vegas will not be feasible until at least 2023.
Sometime in the middle of this month, Nevada will start receiving the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the first doses going to those on the front lines of the pandemic. The first shots would be taken by elderly patients, nursing home residents, some physicians and nurses and other people deemed to be at a greater risk of infection, and widespread delivery is not expected to be available until sometime next spring.
Stephen Miller, the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, claims the news and distribution of the vaccine will offer a major boost to the local economy.
At a meeting hosted by CBER on Tuesday, he declared: “We lost more jobs quicker than ever before. We added more jobs quicker than ever before. We’ve got a way to go, but there’s no doubt about it: the end of the virus is in sight. So, too, will the end of pain with the Las Vegas, Reno economies, and the Nevada economy overall.”
During the virtual meeting held jointly with the Global Economic Alliance of Las Vegas, Miller said the recovery could start sometime next summer, and about a year later, the “weird memory” that is COVID-19 2020 will really dissipate. That’s when Las Vegas at its casinos and entertainment venues will begin to see more normal visits, and Miller adds that by then the city will be just fine.
Miller isn’t the only one, either to feel that way. Christopher Thornberg, co-founder of Beacon Economics, predicts that the recovery process will run fast and will be smoother than that of the 2008 real estate bubble crisis. The CEO of Wynn Resorts, Matt Maddox, agrees, having said earlier this week that pent-up demand would lead to an activity explosion in Las Vegas. This is likely to be the case, as casinos that were allowed to reopen earlier this year after the shutdown saw an immediate flood of patrons, some of whom were willing to wait hours in line just for an opportunity to move into a casino. Despite running at drastically reduced capacity, many venues enjoyed monthly revenue that was on par with what they had seen last year in the same months when they were working at 100 percent.
A lot of work needs to be done and the figures are far from where they were last year. The unemployment rate in Nevada, 12 percent, is almost double that of the national average, and casino employees are eagerly waiting to get the call to return to work.