Nevada Casinos Set To Reopen June 4

Nevada’s Governor has announced plans to reopen the state’s casinos on June 4 roughly three months after they were closed to stem the spread of COVID-19. While the set date is not definite and could change at any moment, many in the state’s struggling gaming industry have welcomed the news.

The Bellagio Hotel exterior with fountains in Las Vegas.

Casino operators and tourists have welcomed the announcement from Nevada’s governor that the state’s casinos can reopen on June 4. ©Antonio Janeski/Pexels

The announcement comes after casinos in 12 states around the country reopened their doors in late May. In neighboring state Arizona, tribal casinos have been open for a week, catering to thousands of visitors from the Southern Californian region who usually travel to Nevada to gamble.

Casinos in Nevada, including the Las Vegas Strip, now have just over a week to prepare for reopening. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has already issued health and safety guidelines that operators must follow to ensure proper social distancing and hygiene precautions are taken.

According to Virginia Valentine, the president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association, Governor Steve Sisolak’s announcement is “fantastic news”. Valentine highlighted that Association members have been preparing for months for reopening, and promised new enhanced health and safety protocols would ensure the “well-being of our employees and visitors.”

Other industry giants that have welcomed the news include Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Wynn Resorts. A spokesman for Caesars shared that they are excited to welcome back guests and employees, while a Wynn Resorts spokesman applauded Governor Sisolak’s science-based handling of the coronavirus situation so far.

Tourists have also been vocal about their excitement for Nevada’s casino reopening, with many expressing that they are confident that the resorts will be safe. However, others have shared their disappointment at Vegas’ plans to limit social interactions, arguing that this was one of the best elements of a Sin City visit.

For now, operators, employees, and visitors are awaiting the go-ahead from health officials and the Gaming Control Board. Sisolak has said that all will go according to plan depending on whether the trends in Nevada’s COVID-19 data remain positive and how an upcoming Gaming Control Board Meeting responds to the data.

According to Josh Swissman, the founding partner of Las Vegas marketing consultants The Strategy Organization, casinos should have enough time to schedule staff and send out promotions.

“Casino companies targeting an opening date on the 4th have had ample (time) to plan for this moment… It is ‘game on’ for marketing executives that have been spending the last few weeks figuring out the best time to fire up their promotional engines.”Josh Swissman, Founding Partner, The Strategy Organization

The pressure is now on for casinos to reopen as safely as possible without risking another shutdown. Hours before Sisolak’s announcement, the state reported an astronomically high unemployment rate of 28.2 percent. As a tourism-dependent state, a huge portion of Nevada’s residents are employed by casinos and resorts.

As Nevada’s largest industry, it is hoped that the reopening of casinos will be the first step toward repairing the economy. What is known is that Sisolak is in a difficult position in trying to balance the needs of both a public health issue and economic issues without making the other worse.

The China Problem

With relations between the US and China deteriorating to previously unseen levels, many are worried about the impact it could have on Nevada’s tourism industry. Las Vegas casino revenues are bolstered every year thanks to the deep pockets of Chinese visitors, and their absence is bound to be noticed.

According to Chunjuan Nancy Wei, an associate professor of international political economy and diplomacy at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, “Chinese tourism is going to be low” this year. There is currently a travel ban on visitors coming from China that may not be lifted until the end of the year.

Additionally, recent polls have revealed that 67 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of China due to their perceived mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis. These attitudes are bound to make Chinese nationals feel unwelcome and may deter Chinese visitors from visiting Las Vegas once the borders have reopened.

Nearly 237,000 visitors to Southern Nevada came from China in 2018 according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). On average, these visitors spend an average of roughly $3,127 in the region, more than 50 percent higher than other international visitors who spend around $2,039.

For the time being, the countries’ relationship does not appear to be improving. President Donald Trump has continued to criticize the Chinese government for what he sees as a failure to warn the world of COVID-19, while Chinese officials have repeatedly mocked the US’ response to the virus on state-run news outlets.

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