Las Vegas Reopens, But Will Gamblers Return?

Nevada has rolled the dice, hoping gamblers who have been shut out of casinos for more than two months because of COVID-19 will return.

On Thursday (June 4) at 12:01 a.m., gambling halls and resorts statewide reopened with the sights and sounds of slot machines and card games, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The glee inside the Golden Nugget 30 minutes after the doors opened was captured by a slightly intoxicated man who shouted “Guys, we did it,” to no one in particular, the paper reported.

Customers who expected business as usual may have been disappointed. The state has limited capacity at 50 percent and buffets and shows remain closed, the report said.

In addition, properties that reopened must follow a strict set of health and safety protocols. In the 78 days since the casinos closed, owners installed plexiglass, social distancing reminders and made masks available. Those not wearing masks are offered them by the staff, but the decision to wear them is left up to the customer. The report said 20 percent of guests at Golden Nugget were wearing face coverings, while every employee was wearing one.

The other big change is mandatory temperature checks. Thermal scanners, which resemble metal detectors, have been installed at entrances, the report said.

Guests hold their wrist up to a green light for two seconds to reveal their temperature. Those who test 100.4 degrees or above won’t be allowed in if they test above the temperature after a 15-minute cool-down period, the newspaper reported.

Every other slot machine is operating to keep patrons apart, or the seats have been removed. Seats at table games and bars were also separated.

But none of the new rules deterred Monika Heilman. The 53-year-old Hughson, California, resident, in Vegas through Sunday, put $100 in a Quick Hot Super Winner slot machine and hit for $435, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“So far, so good,” she said.

Red Rock Resort Director of Casino Operations said the business is using a personal safety product used in hospitals. It coats surfaces and instantly kills germs as it works as a preventative disinfectant, he told the newspaper.

“We took every single chip and hand-cleaned them with toothbrushes,” he said. “Then did the same thing with the cards, the dice, the machines, the pillars, anything the guests might touch.”

On Wednesday (June 3) PYMNTS reported COVID-19 has taken its biggest toll on Nevada’s labor force, more than any other state in the country, with an unemployment rate at more than 28 percent, twice the national average.

And it’s unclear whether the appeal of Las Vegas can survive given casinos have large groups of people indoors for gambling, conventions and entertainment.