Major Las Vegas Casinos Shut Doors Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Written By Derek Helling on March 16, 2020
Las Vegas casino closed open

Health officials in Nevada are hoping that the spread of the coronavirus in Las Vegas will remain contained within the city. To support this, many casinos in Las Vegas have closed their doors to the public.

The pandemic has forced the closure of casinos run by Encore, MGM, and Wynn Las Vegas, including Wynn’s poker rooms.

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What we know about the closure of Las Vegas casinos right now

Currently, numerous gambling establishments in Sin City are not open to the public. However, it is unclear when they might re-open.

MGM has decided to halt hotel reservations at all its properties until May 1. Furthermore, according to a memo distributed to employees, their benefits will continue to be provided even if they are laid off or furloughed until June 30.

Though the gambling areas might potentially reopen earlier, there is no certainty. The Centers for Disease Control have advised that all events involving at least 50 people should be cancelled or delayed for a minimum of eight weeks.

Publicly available information about the timelines for Encore and Wynn properties is limited. It could be reasonable to conjecture that they won’t reopen before May, but this assumption might still be overly hopeful at present.

As of Sunday, there were no plans to shut down facilities run by Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and Red Rock Resorts. However, continuing to operate might not be a wise decision.

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Dangers of financial losses and transmission of the virus

In these circumstances, the primary concerns for casino operators are the health and safety of their employees and guests. Regrettably, casinos can become a hotbed for virus transmission.

Despite casino patrons and staff not being in close contact, numerous hard surfaces such as door handles, gambling chips, and slot machines are present in casinos. The virus can survive on these surfaces for several days.

Moreover, the virus has hit hardest on individuals aged 60 and above. This coincides with the age group that most frequently visits casinos, creating a recipe for disaster.

Even though casinos may choose not to shut down due to health reasons, financial issues are still a concern. Given that a lot of prospective casino customers may decide to stay at home, it’s worth considering whether the cost of staying open outweighs the potential income.

However, one could argue for the need to keep the doors open. Regardless of whether this argument holds water, it doesn’t have to be a black-and-white matter.

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The downside to shutting it all down and how to lessen its impact

The primary cost of shutting down these casinos is not so much the revenue loss for the casinos, but rather the potential loss of income for thousands of hourly workers at these facilities. However, casinos can take measures to alleviate this situation.

Some of these employees have union representation. For instance, around 60,000 individuals working in Las Vegas gambling facilities are members of the Culinary Union Local 226.

The union is persistently discussing with casino owners about mitigating the effects of lost bets for its members. MGM has already made a move towards this by declaring that it will continue to pay its full-time hourly workers for the subsequent two weeks.

These individuals may also be eligible for some state aid. According to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, the state’s unemployment insurance funds are currently in a healthy condition.

The duration of the furlough for these workers remains uncertain due to the fluid nature of the current situation. However, what is evident is that the choices for casino patrons in Las Vegas have currently diminished.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling, an alumnus of the University of Iowa (2013), is a prominent writer for PlayUSA and serves as the manager for BetHer. His work primarily focuses on the crossroads of sports, business, and law.

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