Published on : Friday, June 5, 2020
The casinos of Las Vegas are reopening, bringing a ray of hope for Nevada’s economic revival after 78 days of unprecedented lockdown as global pandemic COVID-19 looms.
Now Las Vegas’ casinos came back to life Thursday, welcoming back the gaming and tourism that serve as Nevada’s lifeblood.
On March 18, Nevada’s 219 commercial casinos were ordered to shut their doors, bringing the gaming industry to a screeching halt. Since then, thousands of tourism industry jobs have been lost, leading Las Vegas to report the highest unemployment rate of any U.S. metropolitan area.
That all changed a minute after midnight when the first casino doors reopened. Many more will open later Thursday morning, initiating Las Vegas’ hoped-for recovery. While experts predict the industry will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to recover, the time could be shortened if the strong tourism demand seen so far continues.
Well before Thursday’s reopenings, casino companies had to adjust reopening plans to keep up with visitor demand.
On May 29, Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced it would reopen Harrah’s Las Vegas on Friday, following Flamingo and Caesars Palace’s reopening on Thursday.
Caesars CEO Tony Rodio said that the initial customer demand to visit the Las Vegas Strip has been much stronger than anticipated. MGM Resorts International — which plans to reopen Bellagio, MGM Grand and New York-New York on Thursday — already is planning a fourth reopening next week, with Excalibur set to welcome back guests on June 11.
Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman David Strow wasn’t able to provide details on just how many customers he expects to see at the company’s Las Vegas properties this week, but said the 12 properties it has reopened in other states are doing “very well.”
A spokesperson for Station Casinos said the company, which is opening select properties Thursday, said it has seen an “incredibly positive” response from both locals and California residents.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. spokesman Michael Weaver declined to comment on occupancy rates for Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, but said “demand is consistent with our current expectations.” The representatives from Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International did not provide comment.
Nevada Resorts Association President Virginia Valentine said resort partners are optimistic about first-week bookings, and are relieved to see Las Vegas resorts coming back online after the months long stoppage.
Valentine said that some of the news indicates more rooms may be booked than originally thought. It is looking like they will have a very positive response to the reopening. Obviously, they want people to be safe when they come back, and they have been making preparations now for months to bring them back to a safe and exciting environment.