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In the Aftermath of COVID-19, Las Vegas is Reopening Casinos With Precautions

Published on June 14, 2020, 6:15 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

As the new year began, few of us, if any, could have imagined how the year was going to progress. There had been news of the COVID-19 outbreak in China but the thought of it becoming a global pandemic wasn’t in our minds. That’s what happened though, and the subsequent lockdowns have changed our lives. It’s also caused casinos in Las Vegas to temporarily close their doors. Now, they are starting to re-open but just how different could business be from now on?

What has happened in Las Vegas during these months?

It’s been almost unimaginable for Las Vegas to see its famous casinos closed from business. That’s what happened though due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The closures lasted for around 80 days, not far off three months without a slot machine win or players trying to win big on the roulette table. Hundreds of thousands of people were put out of work due to the closures. It’s not just about re-opening the casinos; people aren’t so keen on flying at present. Despite the many changes and the gradual staggered reopening, tourists from overseas are still unable to get to the States, causing major problems for many casinos.

Sometimes everything just doesn’t go to plan. With the go-ahead given to re-open, everything looked on target but then protests in the wake of the George Floyd murder hit Las Vegas. Advertisements publicising the re-opening of casinos were pulled. Getting customers to come back is vitally important for Las Vegas, but with tear gas and violence on the streets, it just didn’t feel right.

Consequences on the gambling industry

Statistics had been appalling in recent months as the casinos were shut. There were 106,900 visitors in April, that’s down 97% on figures for earlier in 2020 when there were more than three million. Then there’s the fear of a second wave that could see travel from state to state being suspended. Everything seems to be on a knife-edge at present. It’s the same regards to the lucrative convention business, when will that return to previous levels?

People are used to being indoors for long periods. Lockdown has seen players flock online in droves for their gambling fix. They may choose to continue to do so rather than heading back to Las Vegas casinos. If you want to know more about online casinos, a visit to sites such as will supply you with plenty of information about which are the best to join.

The job of the Las Vegas casinos is to get their customers back. Of course, a trip to a Vegas casino is about a lot more than just gambling. Great sights to see such as the Bellagio fountains and hopefully in time, the return of Vegas’ legendary entertainment shows.

Rules to follow due COVID-19 at Bellagio Casino
The rules to follow due COVID-19 at Bellagio Casino (Las Vegas)

Last Thursday (4th June) saw tentative steps being taken to start reopening. Business was slow at first, but gradually began to pick up and the casino floors, bars and restaurants began to show signs of life again. However, life at the casinos is now a bit different. Social distancing means only every other slot machine is available to play. Casinos must follow rules set out by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. With the number of taxis reduced at present, free parking on the Las Vegas strip is allowed.

Precautions imposed

All guests are required to have their temperatures checked and medical crews must be on site. Casino employees are required to wear masks at all times, including the Venetian gondoliers and piano players too. That includes pianist Whitney Phoenix who dons a black mask to go with his black-and-gold jacket. You wonder what Liberace might have worn.

The number of people allowed in the gaming area has been cut by around 50%. Gaming machines need to be regularly disinfected as well as chairs. Social distancing is also in place for the restaurants, bars, and shops.

There’s no rush though with casinos wanting to take it slow. The aim over the next few months is to demonstrate that the casinos can re-open safely and not see infection rates increase as a result. It’s going to be a hard sell persuading people that it is safe to venture out again and is going to be crucial to Las Vegas’ short to midterm survival.

Hand washing station at Bellagio casino (Las Vegas)
In the casino areas, there are various washing stations to facilitate the cleaning of visitors

MGM Resorts have only opened the Bellagio, New York-New York and MGM Grand with just 30 to 35% of its rooms available as safety measures are introduced to their hotels. Acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle, said the initial opening period will have worked well if visitors go home and say, “While it was different, it was safe, it was fun, and it’s still the Vegas I know.” The hope is that the early visitors will spread the word and help rebuild business. It’s not going to be easy and there may well be setbacks along the way.


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