Las Vegas Begins Mass Testing of Casino Employees Ahead of Reopening

Las Vegas Convention CenterWith casinos in Las Vegas gearing to reopen their doors in the very near future, with some resorts aiming for a June 1st reopening, the city will begin testing the first of thousands of casino employees for the new coronavirus starting this Thursday.

According to the official plan announced by several casino operators, local tourism, union, and hospital officials, the first group of casino employees that will get tested are those who are receiving job callbacks ahead of Las Vegas resorts reopening.

Officials have a hefty goal in mind for the testing, aiming to get 4,000 test samples administered for the coronavirus checkup daily. Results are expected to be delivered within 48 hours, and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be referred to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) to get contact tracing conducted.

Why Mass Testing Casino Employees is Essential

With casino employees on the verge of entering back into the gaming industry workforce, it’s vital that precautions are taken to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in Clark County, especially when casinos will be repopulated by numerous staff and guests again soon.

The prevention of the spread of COVID-19 starts with preliminary measures, like getting employees tested before they even step foot back onto the job-site.

According to Geoconda Argüello-Kline, union secretary-treasurer, coronavirus testing ensures that Culinary Union members are safe and healthy enough to come back to work. Before Las Vegas resorts even open again, the health and safety of staff and visitors is the number one priority.

It will also give out-of-town visitors more confidence to return to the Las Vegas Strip, knowing that the city is taking the health of their staff very seriously.

In the same way that the public will get a sense of ease from knowing casino operators’ reopening plans, is the same way they’ll gain more peace by knowing that tens of thousands of casino employees have been tested for COVID-19 and only the ones who have tested negative for the virus will be allowed back to work.

MGM Resorts & Caesars Entertainment Will Have the Highest Numbers of Employees Testing

It’s no surprise that the Strip’s two largest casino operators, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, will make up the bulk of employee testing. Both companies have 10 Strip properties each, with over 150,000 hotel rooms between them.

Former MGM Resorts executive, Jim Murren, is helping lead the way for employee testing by the efforts he’s put forth in helping state marshals boost testing capacity.

Caesars CEO, Tony Rodio, also recently announced that company employees would be given a questionnaire before returning to work that will determine their immediate need to be tested for COVID-19.

Testing to be held at Las Vegas Convention Center

The largest mass testing site in Nevada to date will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, as it has an adequate amount of space to pull off the required casino employee testing.

The center will work in partnership with University Medical Center (UMC), the Culinary Union and MGM, Caesars, and Boyd Gaming Properties in testing up to 4,000 casino employees a day.

“This is huge for Las Vegas,” says UMC Spokesman Scott Kerbs.

According to Boyd Properties, any employee who is returning to work will be getting tested at the Convention Center.

Current Coronavirus Cases in Nevada

On Tuesday, state health officials reported over 7,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 365 related deaths.

Over the past few weeks, the number of cases has steadied out with no significant daily jumps in reported cases or deaths.

Right now, Nevada is in Phase 1 of its reopening plan, which it entered into on May 9. Phase 1 called for the reopening of retail stores, restaurants, barbers, hair, and nail salons at 50 percent capacity.

Governor Sisolak advised that he and his team of medical experts would monitor the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over a 14-day period once the state entered into Phase 1. Sisolak said the next steps would be determined after reviewing those results. According to the Governor’s phased reopening plan, casinos will reopen in Phase 3 or 4.

Stay Tuned

The announcement of mass testing of casino employees is a good sign that casinos will be reopening sometime soon.

What do you think about Las Vegas getting 4,000 casino employees tested daily, ahead of casinos reopening?

As a visitor or casino worker, does it give you more peace of mind to return to Las Vegas resorts? We’d love to hear your thoughts below. Stay safe, and continue to check back for the latest coronavirus coverage in Las Vegas.

The Venetian Offering Free Night Stay for Essential Workers

The Venetian Resort in Las VegasThe spirit of giving has been strong in The Venetian Las Vegas, even throughout the coronavirus shutdown that has crippled the Las Vegas economy. From the beginning of the month through May 14, the resort partnered with Catholic Charities to provide 1,000 boxed meals daily to the homeless throughout the valley.

The company also graciously continued to offer full pay and benefits to its 9,300 employees through May 17. Emergency pay for close to 1,200 employees spanning across 14 different Venetian restaurants was also covered.

And on April 1, the Venetian’s parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., donated two million pieces of personal protective equipment to Nevada and New York.

Now, the Venetian want to say thank you in its own way to local first responders and essential workers. Until the end of the year, the casino-hotel will be offering one free night stay to those have been on the front lines during the pandemic.

Those front-line workers who will be eligible to redeem the free night stay include those from the following sectors:

  • Agriculture, livestock & feed mills
  • Air transportation
  • Auto repair services & trucking service centers
  • Banks & financial institutions
  • Businesses or organizations providing food, shelter, or critical social services for disadvantaged populations
  • Educators, childcare centers and daycares
  • Essential stays in hotels, commercial lodging, dormitories, shelters, and homeless encampments
  • Fire services, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services & public safety agencies
  • Food processing
  • Gas stations & truck stops
  • Grocery stores, supermarkets, hardware stores, convenience & discount stores
  • Healthcare services
  • Home maintenance/repair services
  • Laundromats & dry cleaners
  • Logistics & Supply Chain Operations: Warehousing, storage, distribution, and supply-chain related operations
  • Pharmacies, healthcare operations, & biomedical facilities
  • Post offices & shipping outlets
  • Public transportation
  • Public utilities
  • Trash collection
  • Veterinary services & pet stores

The Resort Will Start Accepting Reservations for June 1

While many casino operators were banking on a Memorial Day Weekend reopening, with the weekend quickly approaching, it’s highly unlikely casinos will be given the green light to reopen by week’s end.

Instead, The Venetian is anticipating a reopening date of June 1 and will start accepting reservations for that date on its official website soon. The company will reopen in phases, with the Venetian tower being the first to accept hotel reservations, with the Palazzo accepting reservations at a later date.

In the statement the company released announcing their decision to begin accepting reservations, they advised that they will continue to comply with guidance provided by federal, state, and local authorities which include the Southern Nevada Health District, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Venetian Clean Initiative Will Ensure Guests Return to a Safe Property

The Venetian Clean commitment, which was released at the end of April, outlined the specific health and safety protocols the resort plans to implement upon reopening.

That initiative includes 800 separate initiatives that have been thoughtfully considered and chosen based on the level of safety it will provide to guests and staff members.

Some of those major protocols include the thermal screening of all casino entrants, including staff and guests, offering face masks for guests to wear, requiring employees to wear masks, and rearranging the casino floor to support social distancing.

Stay Tuned

It’s impressive to see just how generous The Venetian has been in serving others during these challenging times. The list of frontline workers that will be able to receive a complimentary night stay at the luxury resort is extensive, and we’re glad that these brave workers will be able to have a night to enjoy themselves, free of charge.

What do you think of Venetian’s free night stay offer? Are you a frontline worker in the Las Vegas valley who will take advantage of the offer?

Share with us below!

Could Younger Gamblers be the Driving Force Behind Las Vegas’ Recovery?

Cosmopolitan Casino FloorWith Las Vegas casinos nearing reopening, questions are surfacing as to what will help drive the economy back to glory.

We know that for one, casino operators must continue developing strong reopening plans and safety protocols so that visitors can feel like Las Vegas is a safe space to return to amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Confidence in air travel is also a big one, as it’s the first step in getting out-of-state travelers who might not be close enough to drive in, the peace of mind in taking the journey necessary to get to Las Vegas.

But what else could help revive Vegas’ economy when the city does finally reopen? Well, according to Synergy Blue, a Las Vegas skill-based game maker, the answer could be younger gamblers.

In late April, Synergy Blue took an online survey of 1,000 U.S. gamblers and found that it was the younger gamblers who showed the most confidence in returning once the shutdown lifts.

According to Synergy Blue’s CEO, George Washington, it doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that the younger demographic is more risk-oriented and has a bigger appetite for social interaction, especially after being cooped up for the past two months.

Younger Demographic Likely Safest to Return

With the highest risk group of the coronavirus being those 65 and older or those with underlying health conditions or chronic lung disease, all signs point to the younger demographic as being the healthiest to return to Las Vegas resorts when they reopen.

Synergy Blue’s survey found that 62 percent of U.S. gamblers who were 29-years-old or younger said they would return to Las Vegas whenever stay-at-home orders and the shutdown are lifted, as opposed to the group 60 years old, where only 40 percent said they would return.

While younger gamblers aren’t known for being heavy spenders, if a higher percentage of them are willing to return to Vegas, they could prove as the driving force behind the city’s long-awaited economic recovery.

“It’s going to take time for some people (to return), but there’s a positive spin to this,” Washington said. “Over half of the people surveyed are willing to come straight out there (to casinos). People will be back to some normalcy soon.”

Younger Gamblers Could be Pose a Paradox for Casino Operators

According to Nehme Abouzeid, president and founder of LaunchVegas LLC, a consulting firm in Las Vegas, while the younger generation will likely be the first to return to land-based casinos because of their health, the typical slots player is older.

Abouzeid says it would be an “inverse relationship.”

The Las Vegas Convention Visitor’s Authority (LVCVA) also found that older gamblers typically shell out more money compared to their younger counterparts. Around 30 percent of baby boomers were found to have a total gambling budget of around $600.

Young Travelers Who Don’t Visit the Casinos Can Still Help Las Vegas Recover

Even if young travelers aren’t going to be hitting the slots or crap tables, their tourism will still help Las Vegas recover.

There is a lot for younger visitors to be attracted to in Las Vegas, from pools to shows and restaurants. And with the layouts of these popular amenities being modified to fit social distancing, younger tourists can feel ease returning to them to have fun while being protected.

Online Gaming Sees Major Boost Amid Nationwide Casino Shutdown

The survey also revealed that online gaming has ramped up heavily amid the nationwide shutdown of casinos.

According to the survey, 64 percent of the 1,000 U.S. gamblers questioned said they’ve played mobile games or participated in online gambling during the pandemic. It was the first time to gamble online for 1 of 5 of those surveyed.

“It seems that online gaming is having its test-drive moment,” Abouzeid said. “With land-based casinos shuttered, virtually no sports to bet on, and media consumption up due to the lockdown, online casinos are enjoying a unique window of opportunity.”

A whopping 93 percent of those gamblers surveyed also said they would continue to gamble online or use mobile gambling even when stay-at-home orders are lifted. But while this online sector has seen a major boost amid the outbreak, Washington said the growth shouldn’t hurt traditional casinos as the two options provide different advantages for different gamblers.

Washington expects to see more growth in the online gambling space, but not enough that it will noticeably put a dent in the traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

About Synergy Blue

Founded in 2013, Synergy Blue is an industry leader in entertainment gaming solutions, known for the skill-influenced and arcade-style games they create. They create “Fun You Can Bet On!” The Las Vegas-based gaming company designs products for an emerging class of players. They have products and applications spanning across six different countries.

Latest Las Vegas Tourism Ad Highlights ‘New Reality’ for the City

Bellagio Fountains in Las VegasIn Las Vegas’ brand new tourism advertisement, it’s letting visitors who come to the city once the shutdown is lifted know what they can expect to walk into, and according to the ad, that’s a more intimate, #OnlyYou Vegas experience.

The video’s opening line confirms the era of COVID-19 we’re all currently in. A female narrator begins by saying:

“The world has changed…and Vegas is changing with it.”

But the commercial spot is putting a positive twist on the ‘New Vegas’ guests will experience when they’re able to return. The advertisement, which was created by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, emphasizes that the city is working on creating a more “intimate” Vegas experience, with more space for guests to enjoy.

A “New Vegas” Experience for the “New Reality”

The video highlights solo travelers and different couples experiencing popular Vegas scenes, with a couple dancing in front of the Bellagio with the iconic fountains going off in the background, to more secluded experiences to emphasis the social distancing that’s to come, like walking hand-in-hand on a trail in Red Rock Canyon, or swimming in a rooftop pool at night with no one else around.

A solo tourist can also be seen toward the end of the video taking in the sights and architecture of the Las Vegas Strip, with minimal people passing by in the background.

That’s something that will definitely be a new sight to see, especially when the “old Vegas” was full of hoards of crowds, sometimes making it impossible for people to even get a photo without groups of people walking in front of it or photobombing it, whether intentional or not.

The closing line assures those anxious to get back to the Entertainment Capital of the World that when Vegas is ready to see them again, they’ll be the first to know.

The new 30-second tourism spot will air across multiple cable networks beginning this week.

You can view it in its entirety below:

The Ad Compliments Vegas’ New “Only Vegas” Slogan that Aired Earlier This Year

Earlier this year in January, the infamous, award-winning “What happens here, stays here,” campaign finally got a facelift after 17 long years from when it was first introduced.

R&R Partners, the creative advertising agency behind Sin City’s original catchphrase slogan was behind the reimagined new slogan, “What happens here, only happens here,” too.

The goal behind the reimagined slogan is to showcase Las Vegas as more than just a gambling and entertainment destination, to the city it’s grown to become, one that even holds its own as a new sport’s destination now, too.

The advertising agency spent several years working on the new branding. It wasn’t unveiled in its fully planned advertising capacity during the week it originally planned to air, the week of the 62nd Grammy Awards, although the 60-second commercial spot did air that night.

Grammy night this year, unfortunately, came on the heels of iconic basketball star Kobe Bryant’s tragic death on Jan. 26.

Instead of airing the new #OnlyHere slogan on marquees around the Strip and on various cable networks, instead, Las Vegas properties paid their respects to the NBA legend by displaying heartfelt messages for the Lakers all-star and those involved in the helicopter crash that claimed Bryant’s life, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and nine others.

In the latest “New Vegas” tourism spot, it combined the #OnlyYou intimacy theme with the new #OnlyVegas experience.

Guests Can Still Except Vegas Excitement When it Reopens

The new ad did a great job of conveying how different Las Vegas will look when it comes to reopening in the age of social distancing, but it also made sure to let visitors know that they can still expect “Vegas excitement” to be here when it returns, too.

Fewer crowds and casino safety measures, like guests getting thermal scannings of their internal temperature when entering casino properties, and seeing dealers and other casino staff with masks on, will no doubt take some time getting adjusted to, but it won’t cancel the fun that people come to Las Vegas expecting to get.

Like MGM Resorts acting CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, pointed out, a safe Vegas is still Vegas nonetheless.

Las Vegas hasn’t been the only thing shut down over these past few months. Nationwide, people have been subjected to stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s likely that once the entertainment city reopens, people will want to return to experience fun and excitement again, especially after experiencing fear and lockdown induced from the pandemic.

Of course, it will depend on guests’ confidence in air travel, being around large groups of people, their confidence in Strip casinos safety protocols, and the state of the outbreak during the time Las Vegas reopens, but one thing is for sure: The city is eager and ready to welcome guests back, and it will provide guests with a unique, #OnlyYou intimate Vegas experience that they can only get here.

Memorial Day Weekend Reopening for Las Vegas Casinos Unlikely

Las Vegas StripWith Nevada entering into Phase 1 of its reopening plan on May 9, a week earlier than projected, it gave Las Vegas resorts some valid hope for the past few weeks that a Memorial Day Weekend reopening could be possible.

But, with the holiday weekend quickly approaching and no word yet from Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Gaming Control Board on lifting the shutdown order, it looks like that hope was short-lived.

Now, those resorts who began accepting reservations starting Memorial Day are pushing back their initial booking date until they receive further direction from state and local governing authorities.

Wynn Resorts was among the properties accepting reservations for Memorial Day Weekend, because, according to company spokesman Michael Weaver, the holiday weekend has consistently proven to be a popular time for Southern California visitors to visit Las Vegas and its properties. Last year, the city saw around 300,000 tourists come in from Southern Cali.

This is an important distinction, since visitation from Southern California guests who are able to drive into Las Vegas would likely prove more fruitful than expecting tourism from air travel to be nearly as high, especially when confidence in air travel amid the outbreak is understandably questionable.

The company was also hopeful for a holiday weekend reopening because they would have been able to have protective guest and staff measures in place.

Some Properties are Announcing their Reopening Measures

With casinos still in lockdown, the most important thing operators can do to prepare for reopening is developing a strong set of health and safety protocols.

A few mega-resorts have come public with their reopening plans, including MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, Treasure Island, The Venetian, and Caesars Palace.

Some common protocols among the properties include rearranging the casino floors to support social distancing guidelines, conducting non-invasive thermal screenings of entrants, ramping up cleaning and disinfecting methods, administering thorough COVID-19 training to employees, and not allowing housekeeping to enter rooms during entire guest stays among other measures.

While these properties have made their reopening plans public, it turns out the Nevada Gaming Control Board is allowed to keep reopening plans for other properties confidential if they don’t decide to go public with theirs.

We hope that other properties bring their reopening plans to light, as it will give the public more confidence in returning post reopening.

New Reopening Dates for Various Las Vegas Resorts

As of Monday afternoon, here’s a look into what the new dates Las Vegas resorts are beginning to take reservations:

  • Boyd Gaming Corp., June 1
  • Caesars Entertainment Corp., May 29
  • Circus Circus, May 31
  • The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, June 4
  • Las Vegas Sands Corp., No reservations being accepted on the company website at this time
  • Station Casinos, June 1
  • Westgate, June 18
  • Wynn Resorts Ltd., June 1

Las Vegas Casinos Will Look Different When They Reopen

While a definitive reopening date is unclear, one thing is: Las Vegas casinos are going to look different when they reopen, at least for a while.

It won’t be the crowded Las Vegas that people are used to, filled with all the hustle and bustle. Instead, it will be a more intimate Vegas experience.

For one, fewer people will be allowed to gamble, at table games, and while playing slots on the casino floor. This is being done to support social distancing guidelines. MGM Resorts even announced last week that when they reopen their first two properties, The Bellagio and New York-New York, that they will only allow the properties to be filled at 25 percent capacity.

Casino employees will be on the lookout for crowd gatherings to ensure that guests keep their distance at all times while on resort properties.

Dealers and other casino staff will also be wearing face coverings throughout their shift, with dealers to offer up hand sanitizer to gamblers while they play.

Restaurants and bars, retail spaces, and pools will all look different too, with fewer crowds and more space between individuals and different parties of people.

Stay Tuned

Well, while it certainly would have been nice to see Las Vegas reopen during the holiday weekend, we trust that authorities will give the city the green light to reopen at the safest possible time, whether that’s in the next couple of weeks of further into June.

Were you expecting casinos to return for Memorial Day Weekend? And will you be one of the first to visit Las Vegas when it does finally reopen, or will you wait it out to see how things go first?

Let us know in the comments below, and as always, stay safe and healthy out there!

Restaurants in Downtown Las Vegas Now Temporarily Offering Sidewalk Dining

Fremont District Restaurants in Downtown Las VegasWith Gov. Sisolak announcement of Nevada entering into Phase 1 of its staggered reopening plan on May 9, it effectively enabled dine-in restaurants across the Las Vegas valley to reopen at half capacity.

Now, the City of Las Vegas found an even more creative solution to serving patrons. Restaurants within the area spanning across the Arts District, Fremont East, and the heart of Downtown LV can now temporarily expand their restaurant sitting out onto the sidewalk.

Social distancing rules apply to the new accommodations, such as restaurant operators leaving six feet of space between the outside tables on the sidewalk and pedestrians walking past the restaurant. Restaurant patios must also be marked with some form of removable barriers.

Cooking is prohibited on sidewalks, and music can only be played from inside the restaurant, not outside on the sidewalk patio.

In addition, sidewalk patios cannot overlap with adjacent businesses by over 50 feet. To not run into the issue of overlapping with other businesses, which could easily happen especially in Fremont East district where restaurants like Le Thai, a popular Thai restaurant downtown, are right next door to bars and other restaurants, the city recommends that neighboring businesses come together to work on their outdoor seating plans.

As of right now, casinos and bars remain closed, but there is a strong possibility they could be opening back up by the end of the month or in early June.

Restaurant Reopening Guidelines in NV

After nearly two months, Nevadans can finally enjoy a meal inside a restaurant. Previous directives allowed for only carry out orders and deliveries through services like Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash, or UberEats for restaurants who remain opened during the lockdown.

This is a big leap forward for the Silver State, whose economy was rocked by the coronavirus outbreak. Of course, reopening restaurants amid an active outbreak requires that things look a little bit different for a while.

One of the biggest restrictions for reopening is that restaurants can only allow 50 percent seating capacity, per the local fire code. This is the first step in following social distancing guidelines, as it caps the number of people in a restaurant building at once. Seating is also prohibited in the bar area of any restaurant.

Tables will be spaced six feet apart, and restaurant staff are wearing masks while they serve customers. Customers are also being encouraged to wear masks while dining as well. Sisolak is encouraging restaurant operators to go by reservations in order to monitor the number of patrons entering into their facility.

For pubs, bars, breweries, and wineries that normally serve food, they’ve also been allowed to reopen to serve food strictly and out of the bar area.

Southern Nevada Health District’s Guidance for Restaurants Reopening in Phase 1

The Southern Nevada Health District has provided its COVID-19 guidance for food establishments reopening in Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan, as well as a checklist for operators to run through.

Trained and Prepared Staff

Employee health screenings should be assessed upon arrival daily. Pre-shift meetings in a space that allows for social distancing should be conducted daily where staff reviews COVID-19 procedures for operation, including proper use and care of personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing guidelines, hand hygiene protocols, proper glove use and food handling measures.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

A cleaning and disinfecting plan for high-touch surfaces and access areas should be thoughtfully developed, as well as training staff on how to properly disinfect tables and chairs after every guest use.

Whenever possible, food establishments are being encouraged to use disposable dining ware instead, including utensils, cups, and plates.

Measures for keeping the facility equipped with a fresh and safe water supply must also be followed.

Back of House Areas

Restaurant management is being encouraged to stagger employee shifts to avoid large groups of employees from gathering in back-of-house corridors and service elevators.

Social distancing signage in multiple languages should be posted in visible areas in the facility, as well as social distancing floor markers for areas where employees gather or wait in lines, such as time clocks, locker rooms, and uniform control rooms.

Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers should be provided at employee entrances or areas where high-contact items are used, such as time clocks.

Employees should be constantly reminded to wear face coverings throughout their shift.

Front of House Areas

An adjusted floor plan to reduce occupancy per the State and Federal guidelines of allowing 6 feet distance between tables should be implemented.

Various signage should be posted as critical reminders. Signage types include:

  • Social distancing signage clearly posted in visible areas to remind patrons to keep their safe distance while in the establishment.
  • Signage on the proper use of face coverings.
  • Signage directing customers who have symptoms of COVID-19 or underlying health conditions of their delivery options.

Providing touchless hand sanitizer dispensers at entrances or other high-traffic areas of the establishment. Reservations are also being encouraged to limit the number of people in indoor and outdoor waiting areas, to maintain social distancing between waiting parties.

Consider switching to a menu board to limit multiple guests touching individual menus.

Removing all customer self-service condiments and utensils, and not presetting tables with utensils.

Refills on water or beverages should also be done at the table, or by leaving a pitcher for guests to self-pour.

Note: As of right now, buffets and self-service establishments are suspended until further notice.

Stay Tuned

It’s good to see the positive momentum going with food establishment reopening in Las Vegas and statewide.

Restaurants in casinos have also been allowed to reopen in Phase 1, granted that there is a street, outdoor seating option to keep guests from entering onto the casino floors.

What do you think of Downtown Las Vegas temporarily allowing sidewalk dining? Will you be heading out to enjoy a curbside meal soon?

We’d love to hear your thoughts below! Be sure to check back for more coronavirus coverage in Las Vegas.

 

Casino Reopening Plans Should be Made Available to Public

Aerial View of Las Vegas Strip at NightWith Nevada’s casinos on the verge of reopening, the most vital order of business for them will be ensuring guests feel comfortable and safe upon reentering their doors.

A few mega properties on the Las Vegas Strip, such as Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts properties have all recently unveiled their new health and safety protocols in the era of COVID-19.

That’s been a beneficial move for casino operators, as the transparency allows guests to have more peace of mind when it comes to exactly what Las Vegas properties are doing to welcome them back amid the coronavirus pandemic. By stepping up to make their plans public, those properties will likely see guests flocking to their resorts first.

But, while the Nevada Gaming Control board is mandating every licensee, from megaresorts on the Strip to gas station convenience stores that offer slot machine games, to turn in their reopening plans, it seems that the Control board plans on keeping them confidential.

This can definitely be problematic in Las Vegas making its long-awaited return, especially when the public’s worries would ease given a full public disclosure of health and safety reopening plans.

Releasing Reopening Plans Would Benefit Everyone

For one, fully disclosing reopening plans benefits those who wish to return to Las Vegas once the shutdown order is lifted by taking a load of worry off of their shoulders, especially during the current, fragile COVID-19 climate.

The more thorough and detailed operators are in making sure their properties stand up against an ever-present virus, the more guests will feel confident in setting foot in those properties doors.

Not only that but sharing best practices can set the example for how other properties across the Las Vegas Strip should handle reopening. Those best practices so far seem to be rearranging casino floors to support social distancing guidelines set by the CDC, conducting non-invasive thermal screenings of guests and staff at casino entrances, and ramping up cleaning and sanitation of high-traffic areas and frequently contacted hard surfaces.

By pooling these predictably effective protocols, it will make Vegas stand up even stronger against the virus.

Nevada Revised Statutes is Allowing Board to Treat Reopening Information as Confidential

While we applaud the casino operators who have gone public with how they plan on reopening during this uniquely challenging time, it’s unfortunate that Control Board is reluctant to make reopening plans readily available to the public.

It appears as though a specific section of Nevada Revised Statutes, specifically NRS 463.120, is the reason behind allowing the pressing information to be kept under wraps. Under NRS 463.120, the board and the Nevada Gaming Commission is able to treat such information that it receives as classified.

However, this is troublesome given the fact that asking for reopening plans isn’t the same as asking casino operators to reveal their trade secrets or disclose any information that would give away a competitive edge.

What this means is that it’s up to casino companies whether or not they want to make their reopening plans public, as it’s not being enforced by the Gaming Control Board. It would be a smart move on the part of casinos to do so because it’ll convey to the public, especially a public that wants to return to their specific property, that they’re being proactive in their approach to reopen safely and securely.

Governor Sisolak Could Override the Statute

While the Gaming Control Board is within their right, per the Nevada Revised Statutes, to keep reopening plans confidential, Gov. Sisolak could issue an executive order that would override it.

If there’s anything we’ve seen clearly these past two months in Las Vegas, it’s that Governor Sisolak holds the power to effectively shut down the city, as he did when he mandated the order for casinos to close to stop the spread of COVID-19.

If he can order casinos to shut down and reopen, surely by the same force of law could he require the Control Board to release reopening plans.

Casino Reopening Measures (What We Know So Far)

For the properties who went public with their reopening measures, they’ve provided a lot of insight into what Las Vegas will look like when it reopens amid the same outbreak that shut it down.

For one, we know that table games will look a lot different, with nearly half of the number of gamblers allow per table reduced.

Casino employees will also be required to wear facial masks during their entire shift. While guests will be encouraged to wear masks, it’s not being enforced.

Elevators will only allow four people on at once. Speaking of elevators, those buttons will be sanitized frequently, as well as any other hard surface that gets frequent, direct contact, such as escalator rails and slot machines.

HVAC systems will also be monitored routinely for maximum efficiency. Some properties, like Caesars Palace, announced they will be disabling every other slot machine and removing its stool to encourage social distancing.

Thermal screenings will also be a big one, as it will allow for every entrant to be quickly screened for internal temperature. Incident protocols are also being put into place, should an individual test positive for COVID-19 while on site.

Stay Tuned

In the weeks leading up to Las Vegas’ hopeful return, it’s been helpful and encouraging to see casino operators release their reopening health and safety measures. It gives us a good idea of the state of Sin City we’ll all be walking back into.

We also know that not all properties will reopen once they’re given the green light to do so. It seems like slow and steady is going to win the race in getting back to the Las Vegas we all know and love.

We hope that more properties come forward with their reopening plans so the public can gain more confidence in returning to Las Vegas. Do you think that Governor Sisolak should enforce the Control Board to release reopening plans?

We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Caesars Palace Prepares for Safe Revival in the Era of COVID-19

Caesars Palace in Las VegasLast week, it was announced by Caesar’s Entertainment that the iconic Caesars Palace casino-hotel in Las Vegas would be the first of the company’s 10 Strip properties to reopen once casinos are given the green light to resume operations.

It’s the first time in the resort’s 54-year history that the doors have been locked and guests have been turned away.

That makes for reopening the 85-acre resort amid a global pandemic a daunting task, according to Caesars Entertainment CEO, Tony Rodio. Rodio describes the shutdown as the worst experience of his 40-year casino career.

“People want to get back to normal again. It’s just going to be a process getting there,” Rodio said.

Caesars Palace New Safety Measures

Caesars Palace is the latest property to unveil their new coronavirus safety initiative, joining MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and The Venetian.

Protocols announced by MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and The Venetian. include thermal screenings of staff and guests, suspending buffet services, monitoring and improving HVAC systems, administering COVID-19 training for employees, and defining incident protocols for guests or staff that test positive for coronavirus.

According to Rodio, Caesars Palace is retooling card tables, dice games, and slot machines all across the casino floor to comply with social distancing guidelines and disinfection protocols.

Every other slot machine throughout the casino floor will be disabled, as well as removing the stool in front of the machine. This is being done to ensure customers can’t stand and linger in those areas because the slot machines won’t even be active.

The number of seats at card tables will go from six to three, with no individuals being able to be within 6 feet of any of the three players who are sitting at the tables. While this goes against the classic casino scene of crowds gathering around to cheer on a lucky gambler, it fits within the scene of reopening a casino amid a virus outbreak.

Rodio also advised that the dice on crap tables will be cleaned after each roll and that chips will be sanitized frequently. As far as decks of cards go, those will be changed out regularly as there is enough on hand to do so.

For larger surfaces, including slot machines and elevator banks, employees will be provided with electronic sprayers to conduct frequent sanitization cleanings.

More contactless services will be provided, such as guests using kiosks to check into one of Caesar’s 3,960 rooms. Housekeeping will also be prohibited from entering rooms during the guest’s stay.

“So, you begin to see us moving, you know, taking a small step, but a very important step, back towards normalcy,” Rodio said.

Employees Will be Expected to Comply with Stricter Requirements

Both visitors and staff will be met with a whole new set of stringent requirements, but employees will be held to stricter requirements.

Those requirements include the mandatory wearing of masks throughout their shifts and undergoing daily temperature checks whenever getting onto the property.

Rodio also advised that employees will be given a questionnaire that they’ll have to complete before returning to work initially. The questionnaire will gauge whether the employee has any COVID-19-related symptoms or have participated in any activities that would call for them to get tested before returning to work.

Few Remaining Staff on Site

Nearly 90 percent of Caesar’s Entertainment’s 60,000 workers worldwide have been either furloughed or laid off.

With the few remaining staff on site, and no foreseeable reservation dates in the future, that is, until the Nevada Gaming Control Board gives the green light to reopen, it’s hard to predict how well the property will fare under this strict set of new rules.

It will certainly take the hands of a lot of workers to keep the property in compliance with its new set of health and safety procedures.

Las Vegas Culinary Union Holds Rolling Protest

Last Tuesday night, the Las Vegas culinary union held a rolling protect demanding that gaming operators reopen safely. The protest saw hundreds of cars lined up on the Las Vegas Strip filled with hospitality workers and their families.

Signs that read, “Don’t gamble with workers’ lives” were being waved from the cars. These workers are urging casino operators to be transparent with their reopening plans, as well as requesting Gov. Sisolak to implement the unions’ safety protocols in the Strip’s reopening.

Stay Tuned

With Caesars Palace being the first of Caesars Entertainment’s 10 properties to reopen, it’s good to see how the resort is planning on reopening safely.

As the current coronavirus situation stands in Las Vegas, it’s possible that casinos across the Strip will get to open their doors by early June, should all go well with the trajectory of positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state.

What do you think of Caesar’s reopening safety measures? Do you think they should also conduct thermal screenings of guests and staff like some of the other casino operators have proposed?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and be sure to check back for the latest coronavirus coverage in Las Vegas.

Gov. Sisolak: Reopening NV in a ‘Safe Manner’ is Top Priority

Governor Steve SisolakWhile many Nevadans are eager to return their normal lives pre-coronavirus, Gov. Steve Sisolak is taking a measured, safe approach to reopening the state.

On last Saturday, May 9, Nevada entered into Phase 1 of its reopening plan which allowed retail businesses, restaurants, barbershops, hair and nail salons to finally open their doors after being shuttered for nearly two months.

The reopening of those sectors came with some restrictions, as to be expected, which include strict social distancing guidelines and allowing only 50 percent occupancy, per the local fire code. The state is expected to stay in Phase 1 for two weeks.

But while this is a good start to officially reopening Nevada, some think it’s not soon enough. Despite conflicting opinions, Sisolak is set on reopening the Silver State in the safest possible manner.

“We will be evaluating when it is safe to move into the second phase. Our goal is to continue reopening Nevada in a safe manner. What we do now will determine what we can do next,” Sisolak said.

Two Weeks Needed to Measure Phase 1 Before Moving to Next Phase

As outlined in Sisolak’s reopening plan, a recorded steady rate or decline of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations must be seen before the state can determine that it’s safe to move onto the next phase. State officials need to see a full two weeks of results from Phase 1 to gauge its impact and consider whether easing more restrictions is the right move.

According to Sisolak, Nevada has seen a 20-day decline in positive COVID-19 test results, dropping 3 percent in positive readings from 12 to 9 percent. Currently, Nevada has 6,600 positive coronavirus cases and 339 related deaths.

The aggressive action to shut down casinos statewide was done to help contain the virus. Gov. Sisolak and his team of experts assured Nevadans that it was an effective move and one that prevented the number of cases in Nevada from reaching the tens of thousands.

While the downward trajectory of the daily rate of positive cases looks promising, Sisolak says it’s still possible that negative data could cause the state to roll back some of the re-openings. And, there’s still no definitive date as to when casinos can reopen.

Memorial Day Weekend Reopening Unlikely

Around 35 properties started accepting reservations for Memorial Day Weekend, including Treasure Island and Wynn Resorts. With past trends, the holiday would be an ideal time for Las Vegas to return, especially with the large percentage of visitors that come into town from Southern California.

Should rooms book up for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and casinos still aren’t given the green light to reopen, the properties will likely inform guests of the cancellations and issue any refunds that are due.

Restaurants in Casinos Allowed to Operate

In an unexpected twist, the announcement of Phase 1 restaurant re-openings also means that restaurants in casinos are allowed to reopen, too. That might seem off-putting, given the fact that casinos are still closed.

But while restaurants in casinos are allowed to reopen, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Allowing restaurants in casinos to reopen while casinos are to remain closed poses many logistical and economic challenges.

According to experts, it just might not be the smartest move for many casino operators. Amanda Belarmino, assistant professor of strategic management at UNLV, says reopening restaurants in casinos that aren’t set up for street access could pose a big challenge in keeping people from roaming inside of hotel-casinos that are closed to the public.

However, Belarmino says some Strip casinos have the type of set up that could make this work, given the current restrictions.

Restaurants and other industry sectors that were allowed to reopen weren’t really given any advance notice, so even though they can technically open right now, it will take some time figuring out how to make their operations work again amid reopening during the pandemic.

According to the Governor, the state Gaming Control Board’s decision to allow restaurants to reopen in gaming establishments was mainly done to support rural communities in Nevada whose only option for restaurant establishments exist within gaming establishments.

Testing Ramps Up in Nevada

With the data of testing instrumental in determining how Nevada moves throughout its phased reopening plan, it was important for Sisolak to get testing ramped up throughout the state.

Across the state, almost 2,500 people are being tested for coronavirus daily. The Orleans recently set up a drive-thru testing site on the first floor of its parking garage for all comers to get tested. A few Walmart locations across the valley have also begun offering COVID-19 testing in its parking lots as well.

According to health officials, there have been 85,791 tests conducted on 72,146 people.

Just last week, the state conducted 17,000 coronavirus tests, averaging out to a daily total of close to 2,500 a day. Now, Sisolak says, the state has the testing capabilities to meet the goal it set of performing 4,000 tests a day.

Sisolak argued that people have to go and get tested, and is strongly encouraging them to do so, especially with the testing capacity increased.

The Virus is Still Here, Nevadans Must Continue to Take It Seriously

Governor Sisolak continues to praise those Nevadans who are taking social distancing guidelines seriously, saying that they’ve saved lives by doing so. He also commented on reopened businesses that are not acting in compliance with the CDC’s guidelines of social distancing.

“Unfortunately, their negligence puts Nevadans at risk, so there will be repercussions as a result of that,” Sisolak said. “We must all continue to take this virus seriously. We know this virus is not gone. We’ve made progress, but the virus is here.”

Stay Tuned

For the Nevada Governor, it seems the old adage “Slow and steady wins the race” will be the pace Nevada needs to follow if it wants to reopen safely and successfully.

We know that it’s not just Nevadans who are eager for the state to open back up, but visitors who will be coming from out of town.

When do you think casinos will reopen in Las Vegas? Do you agree with Governor Sisolak’s measured approach? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Be sure to check back for more coronavirus coverage, and as always, stay safe until we meet again!

Expect Lower Room Rates and Less Crowds When Las Vegas Reopens

Las Vegas StripFor the first time ever, Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps, was forced into a two-month slumber because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

And Las Vegas Boulevard has never been quieter, minus the handful of locals recreationally roaming around, taking in the sight of an empty Strip that they might never see again if all things go well with the trajectory of the outbreak.

Now, the entertainment capital is ready to get back to business. In fact, around 35 properties are already accepting Memorial Day weekend reservations beginning May 22, including Treasure Island, Wynn Resorts, and the Sahara.

It’s no secret that casino operators are eager to welcome guests back to their casino floors, but this, of course, will still depend on the reopening announcement from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

No matter what date Las Vegas actually reopens on, one thing is clear: It’s not going to look like the same Vegas we all know and love, at least for a while.

There are a lot of safety protocols going into place to keep visitors and staff safe, and there aren’t going to be crowds and crowds of tourists walking about Las Vegas Boulevard and the casino floors like we’re used to.

A Different Vegas Experience for Awhile

Las Vegas saw around 42.5 million visitors in 2019. But, for a city that’s built on tourism, one of the industries that has hands down been impacted the most by COVID-19, reopening during a pandemic is sure to cause those numbers to drop.

“I would say that it’s going to be quite a diminished experience for the first few weeks, if not several weeks going into July,” said Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.

The normal Vegas experience sees groups of people huddled together constantly, enjoying different channels of entertainment the city has to offer.

Whether that’s gathering at the crap tables, getting rowdy watching sports at the sportsbook, walking shoulder-to-shoulder on the Strip, enjoying food in a crowded, swanky Vegas restaurant, filling packed arenas, or having fun in close quarters at the various bars, nightclubs, and resort pools around town.

Social distancing is going to change that experience, but it’s going to be vital in how successfully casinos reopen, and in keeping guests and staff safe.

Las Vegas Under Social Distancing Could Be a Good Thing

The crowds and the hustle and bustle of the Strip are no doubt apart of the Vegas appeal, but fewer crowds could be a good thing for those who want to experience Las Vegas and not have to fight to get around or do things.

Social distancing will also change occupancy levels at many of the Strip’s resorts. This is being done so that people can properly adhere to the CDC’s guideline of keeping six feet of space between individuals, and so that overcrowding isn’t an issue for those eager to return to Las Vegas.

MGM Resort’s acting CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, announced this week that the company’s two properties that are set to reopen first, the Bellagio and New-York New-York, will operate at 25% capacity.

Casino operators who are limiting their capacity levels should give those who are either returning to Las Vegas or coming for the first time, the peace of mind knowing that it’s creating a more controlled and safe environment for guests to enjoy.

With the virus still present, it’s crucial that casinos take these steps to welcome guests back to an enjoyable environment, but more importantly, an environment where all scenarios have been considered.

Expect Lowered Room Rates

With Vegas reopening during the outbreak, casino operators are using low prices in an effort to attract visitors.

“I’m absolutely certain that we’re going to see some really tremendous rates,” Curtis said.

Low prices seem like just the ticket in getting guests to return, especially during a time when the economy has been rocked in ways never seen before. If someone is going to take a vacation right now, the affordability of it must be enough to justify bigger worries like getting sick or earning income.

Here’s a look at nightly, weekly room rates for properties accepting reservations for June 1:

  • Bellagio: $139
  • Caesars Palace: $99
  • Cosmopolitan: $160
  • New York-New York: $29
  • Sahara: $76
  • Treasure Island: $98
  • Wynn: $169

Note: These rates do not include taxes or resort fees, and don’t reflect weekend rates.

Safe Vegas is Still Vegas

Although Las Vegas isn’t going to look the same when it returns, a safe Vegas is still Vegas nonetheless.

And with nearly everyone feeling the collective impact of the coronavirus pandemic, people have grown accustomed to what the “new normal” of life looks like right now, and shouldn’t expect Las Vegas to not follow those rules, too.

In fact, people are still looking to Las Vegas to provide an escape now more than ever, and COVID-19 hasn’t changed that. We’re sure that once the city reopens, it will serve up just as much fun and excitement that makes people from all over the world fly in just to experience it.

Just think of it like Las Vegas, with a mask on. If you’re thinking of visiting Las Vegas, now may be an opportune time to do so with the drastically lowered room rates and smaller crowds!