Las Vegas Casinos May Face Another COVID-19 Closure

Las Vegas Casinos

Earlier this week, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak discussed the COVID-19 crisis, leaving many worried that casinos will be shut down again in the future.

In Nevada, the state is suffering a major economic loss, particularly in Las Vegas. The entire town relies on gambling as its main source of income, either directly or indirectly. Employees work at casinos on the gaming floor, in hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. Earlier this year, a shutdown occurred due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casinos were allowed to reopen in June but have yet to fully recover. Now that cases of the virus are on the rise in the state as well as across the US, Governor Steve Sisolak is not ruling out another shut down in the future, which would have devastating consequences for the industry.

Exploring the Options

On Wednesday, Governor Sisolak spoke to the public about the virus and how the state and certain areas are being affected. He did not provide specifics during the meeting but did leave it open as a possibility that casinos could close again. Some venues have already closed during the weekdays due to a lower number of tourists to the area. Revenue losses are severe from months of being closed as well as reopening at a lower capacity.

When speaking with reporters, Sisolak said that his administration is looking at all options when it comes to mitigation efforts to get the virus under control. He said they will wait and see what happens next week.

The governor is trying to protect the fragile economy while also protecting the people. He said it is like walking a tightrope when it comes to balancing public health needs and the economic impact of decisions made regarding the virus.

What’s to Come?

The governor announced that he will provide details soon on the steps that will be taken to address the surge of cases in the state. Going back to November 10, the governor came out and encouraged residents to stay home so the new wave of cases would not grow any larger. However, casinos remained open.

Experts are also weighing in on possible scenarios. UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research director Stephen M. Miller was asked about what the new restrictions might look like and he said the Stay at Home 2.0 order of Sisolak does not have many specifics.

It tells people to work from home if they can and wear a mask all the time. In two weeks, the plan will be revaluated. Miller said that it is likely that more than 14 days is needed to see the significant effects of the virus. The curve climbs for the remaining 14 day period from November 10, then restrictions will most likely be put in place where large crowds gather, like churches, gyms, casinos, etc.

Miller is calling for a national, bipartisan fiscal relief plan that will help businesses as well as employees in any sector where people must gather to make the business work, like casinos. According to Miller, the economic recovery process has been slow and could trend downward again due to new closures or restrictions.

As Nevada weighs its options regarding casinos, other states have already taken action. Earlier this week, tribal casinos in New Mexico started closing up due to new cases. Michigan’s governor has directed both commercial and tribal casinos to close as well.

Starting tomorrow, the Rivers Casino in Philadelphia will be shuttered until the 1st of January. Commercial casinos in the state of Illinois will also close on Friday. It seems as case counts are on the rise across the country, lawmakers are acting quickly to stop large gatherings and try to slow the spread of the deadly virus.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.