It’s finally time for all of Nevada’s casinos to celebrate after the state’s gaming regulator confirmed that they can return to full capacity starting at the beginning of next month. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Back to normality
Casinos in Nevada have experienced a difficult pandemic, with closures, occupancy limits, and other health and safety measures detrimentally impacting revenue. Following an announcement by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) this week however, casinos statewide finally have an end date for those restrictions.
no longer have to adhere to COVID-19 measures starting midnight on June 1
In an announcement on Wednesday, the state gaming regulator told licensees that they will no longer have to adhere to COVID-19 measures starting midnight on June 1. This includes occupancy limits, social distancing, and compulsory mask-wearing. The NGCB took to Twitter that day to publicize its notice to licensees:
Despite easing restrictions for now, the Board noted that limits could return if the spread of COVID-19 increases over the coming months. According to government data, Nevada saw 227 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with the seven-day average at its lowest level since June last year.
All part of the plan
Last month, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that he expected all of the state’s casinos to return to 100% capacity by June 1. However, as per state law, this required the go-ahead of the NGCB which has controlled casino operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a memo to casino operators later that month, the state regulator made clear that employee vaccinations would be vital for casinos to return to full capacity by the June deadline. This led the state’s casino giants to step up inoculation efforts, with Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos, Las Vegas Sands Corp, and MGM Resorts all opening their own vaccination facilities, to name just a few.
Due to the success of these efforts, a number of operators have already returned to 100% occupancy. Las Vegas’s STRAT Hotel, Casino & Skypod received the Board’s approval to return to full capacity earlier this month, while Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, the Cosmopolitan, and MGM Resorts International’s nine Vegas casinos have also returned to 100%.
A quick recovery in the cards
Undoubtedly, casinos in Nevada and the US gambling capital Las Vegas have endured substantial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A downward trend in gaming revenue reached its most severe in December last year when the state hit three record lows, including the lowest monthly revenue since 1997.
Following the easing of restrictions however, things seem to be on the up for the jurisdiction’s casinos. In March, gaming revenue topped $1bn for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, representing the highest monthly gaming win in eight years at $1.07bn. This was partly thanks to an increase in travel numbers and the influence of March Madness on sports betting figures.
bringing employees back and hiring new team members at a pace unlike anything our company or community has seen before.”
As reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ), this recovery has come quicker than some in the industry had expected. In an emailed statement, MGM’s manager of corporate and media relations Callie Driehorst expressed excitement over the surprising speed of recovery. “It’s thrilling for us to be bringing employees back and hiring new team members at a pace unlike anything our company or community has seen before.”
Meanwhile, John Swissman, partner at Vegas-based business management consultancy The Strategy Organization told LVRJ he expects the summer to bring in even more business, despite the period usually representing a lull in gambling activity. “I think the summer is going to be a big, big volume season for us in Vegas this year,” he said.