Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has targeted June 4 as the reopening date of Las Vegas casinos and is set to make the announcement Tuesday.
Sisolak, who announced a shutdown of casinos and non-essential businesses on March 17 because of the coronavirus outbreak, took to Twitter Friday night ahead of the Memorial Day weekend and gave Nevada one of its biggest boosts since COVID-19 shut down the economy in March.
In this Twitter feed, Sisolak said Saturday marks two weeks since his Phase 1 reopening plan was implemented allowing retailers to open at half their capacity and the same at restaurants. He said they’ve been monitoring trends and analyzing plans for Phase 2.
“If Nevada’s Covid-19 data continues to reflect positive or constrained trends through the Memorial Day weekend, the governor will announce a Phase 2 reopening day at the Tuesday press conference, along with business reopening and statewide continuing operation guidelines,” Sisolak’s Twitter statement said.
Sisolak’s announcement regarding Tuesday comes as the Nevada Gaming Control Board on the same day holds an informational workshop where state and local health and safety officials provide an update regarding COVID-19 response measures at resort properties. The board was expected to consider “any necessary action for reopening.” Gaming properties have been required to submit reopening plans to the board for approval some seven days before doing so.
“Without a thoughtful and measured reopening of Nevada’s gaming industry, all of the work that Nevadans have done to fight the spread of this viral pandemic will have been for naught,” Sisolak said in his statement. “The Gaming Control Board remains resolute in ensuring that gaming operations in this state do not compromise the health and safety of Nevadans.”
Earlier this month, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved guidelines for opening casinos that would trim capacity in half, require distancing at slots and table games and that surfaces be cleaned frequently.
The shutdown of casinos has been devastating to the state’s economy. The state’s jobless rate continues to trend up to 26.8 percent, second highest in the nation after 30.6 percent in Washington state. Through the week ending May 16th, there have been 480,233 initial claims filed in 2020 of which 458,581 have come in the last 10 weeks. Strip casinos alone employ about 100,000 people, according to UNLV.
Brendan Bussmann, a partner with Global Marketing Partners, said any reopening will be contingent on Tuesday’s workshop but said he’s hoping “it’s the light at the end of the tunnel for the industry to start getting back on its feet.”
Once casinos reopen, Bussmann said he expects a surge of guests locally from Las Vegas and out-of-state travelers, especially those who drive from neighboring states of California, Arizona and Utah. Some casino properties have already said they are discontinuing parking fees for now, and that will induce locals to go to Strip properties, analysts said.
“It will be like it was last week of people traveling to Arizona to game and the lines you saw there with their reopenings,” Bussmann said. “I think there will be an initial bump of people that want to get back to the Strip and want to see our industry back open and get the state back on track.”
Bussmann said it’s hard to predict tonight how many casinos will open June 4, but every major casino company has started taking reservations for June 1st. That will be pushed back a few days, he said.
“I think you will see every company opening up some level of properties whether its the two MGM has singled, Wynn, Treasure Island, Venentian and Palazzo and Caesars with Caesars Palace and the Flamingo, ” Bussmann said. “Locally, Boyd Gaming and Stations Casinos will do something as well.”