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The crowd cheered as maintenance crews opened the doors to the Golden Nugget at midnight — all the while the Fremont Street Experience displayed virtual fireworks on the ceiling high overhead.

Customers, recording the moment with their smartphones, rushed in to get their favorite slot or go to a table game. It didn’t take long for it to feel like Las Vegas again, with the exception of the sight of masks. Fewer than one in five, however, wore them.

“This is why we live in Vegas — casinos baby!” said local resident Roberto Trinidad, who came with a group of seven others.

His brother Robert, although not wearing a mask as well, was cautious about the experience and was hanging out with friends in the middle of a slot area. He said it was because it wasn’t as crowded as the table games area where he would see eight people gathered around a craps table and six around a roulette wheel. Blackjack tables with seating had three patrons.

“Social distancing isn’t happening. It’s like everybody is saying nothing happened (with the coronavirus),” Robert Trinidad said. “I like playing the tables. But if you’re that close, I won’t go over there. I would rather go outside and take another beer. We just wanted to have an hour of fun and go back home.”

Another Las Vegas resident having a drink and good time with friends was Sebastion Wilson, who wasn’t wearing a mask and called the coronavirus “a joke.” He said he came to play slot machines and blackjack.

“I have been in Las Vegas for seven years, and I support Las Vegas,” Wilson said.

His sister, Erika Bennett of Los Angeles, drove in Tuesday from Southern California, saying she was tired of the lockdown in her state. Bennett had a mask pulled off her mouth and nose but kept accessible on her chin.

“I thought it was time to come out and enjoy life,” Bennett said. “I came at midnight because I thought this was history.”

Bennett said she wasn’t worried about the coronavirus even though she said she will be cautious.

“They say the heat kills the virus and as long as we keep our masks on and have respect for one another, we will be fine,” Bennett said.

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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