Las Vegas to Reopen With Changes

It is expected that casinos on the Las Vegas Strip may be among the first non-essential businesses to reopen, though how this will be done is contested. What is known is that current practices will have to be radically overhauled to reduce the risk of visitors spreading the coronavirus.

The Las Vegas Strip lit up at night.

Major casinos on the Las Vegas strip may be among the first non-essential businesses in the country to recommence trade as a part of the White House’s Three-Phase plan to open the country. ©Michelle Maria/Pixabay

Gaming industry insiders are confident that major casinos can recommence operations soon after President Donald Trump revealed his three-phase Guidelines to Opening Up America Again. Phase One will allow for large venues such as casinos to operate albeit under strict physical distancing protocols.

Among other venues set to reopen include large schools, restaurants, movie theaters and sporting venues, though the plan rules out reopening bars and nightclubs. This would mean that Las Vegas casinos would be required to keep these amenities closed until further phases are rolled out.

In a recent report to investors, Las-Vegas based Union Gaming analyst John Decree offered up some ideas as to what Las Vegas Strip casinos could look like if the Phase One measures are rolled out on May 1. He highlighted the possibility that dealers wear masks and that gaming capacity remains severely limited.

Aside from these details, most in the industry have no idea what exactly the protocols will need to be. Carol Santarelli, a gaming analyst with Deutsche Bank in New York, has argued that it is unlikely that the measures will be uniform for every gaming market, and that a “one-size-fits-all approach” would be unsuccessful.

So far, Santarelli has outlined a number of expectations that analysts are predicting for the entire casino industry. Initially, it is likely that casino tables will be limited to three seats per table, though more tables will open to accommodate the larger demand.

To ensure that operations remain profitable, Santarelli suggests that in regional Nevada markets, table minimums would start at $25 and $50 on the Las Vegas Strip. The close proximity of poker rooms would mean that they would likely remain closed, and every other slot machine would need to be shut off.

While the news is bound to be welcomed by many employees in Las Vegas, casinos will be rostering a reduced workforce of their usual staff for some time. This has prompted the culinary union Culinary Local 226 to begin negotiations with a number of resorts in order to secure benefits for furloughed staff.

The attempts echo other calls made by casino unions in recent weeks to ensure workers remain financially secure during the coronavirus shutdown period. Culinary Local 226 has gone one step further and listed a whole list of demands it argues workers deserve.

Amongst these demands, the union asks that workers are paid for the entire closure and are guaranteed paid leave if they need to self-quarantine. It has also outlined the need for returning workers to receive COVID-19 training and the supplies needed to ensure workplace health risks are limited.

Responding to questions about workplace safety for returning casino workers, the president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association has said that the industry’s highest priority is the health and safety of employees and guests.

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Nevada as it unfolds and remain optimistic that a resolution is near. Our members understand it is critical to take a measured approach that ensures the reopening of Nevada’s tourism industry is done strategically and correctly for the long-term health of our industry and its reputation.”Virginia Valentine, President and CEO, Nevada Resort Association

Before any casinos open up, an order to reopen will need to be granted by Nevada’s governor Steve Sisolak with guidance from medical experts. Until that happens, Las Vegas’ resorts and casinos can only do their best with what little knowledge they have to prepare for the announcement.

Wynn Resorts Ready to Open

One such casino that is gearing up for reopening is Wynn Resorts. According to a recently-released company report, CEO Matt Madox has stated that Wynn will be fit to reopen in May. They will do this, Maddox says, by reducing occupancy and maintaining social distancing and stringent sanitation protocols.

He continued by praising the necessary closures by Governor Sisolak and stated that his decision no doubt saved lives. However, Maddox also pointed out that the state of Nevada is in a relatively fit state compared to other states and will need to act quickly to stop the free-falling of the state’s economy.

In order to safely reopen, Maddox has released a list of safety measures it will introduce to protect the health of its guests and employees. This includes the use of thermal cameras at entrances and blocking those with temperatures of 100 degrees from entering.

Staff will also limit how many guests can use an elevator at one time and require all of its staff to wear protective face masks. It is hoped that by proving its commitment to enforcing health and safety protocols, Wynn Resorts will be among the first casinos to welcome guests again.

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