Las Vegas Moves To Open For Business, Casinos Opt To Modify Their Gaming Floors For Distancing

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Las Vegas has been dark for it’s first time in history since mid March and the city is now slowly moving to re-open their vast businesses including Casinos where visitors will notice significant changes.

As one of the first companies, Wynn has unveiled their plans to modify the gaming floor which will see elimination of popular tables games such as poker and craps.

In an unprecedented step of emergency measures Nevada’s Governor has announced that effective March 17th all nonessential businesses in Nevada are to be closed, resulting in Las Vegas’ first ever shut down.

Las Vegas since it’s inception has pretty much maintained a 24/7-365 operation with some disturbances such as union strikes and even winter storms along the way but a complete shutdown is unprecedented and shows how hard the times are.

Now Las Vegas is back, although slowly and carefully.

As Bloomberg reported this weekend Wynn Resorts & Casinos are planning to reopen with strong modifications to their gaming portfolio.

When Wynn Resorts Ltd. gets the go-ahead to reopen casinos in Las Vegas and Boston, one of gambling’s most iconic games won’t be offered: poker.

It also won’t be as easy to play craps. At the company’s Encore Boston Harbor resort, the game will be allowed only in the high-limit area, where crowds are typically smaller. It’s all part of efforts to limit contact between patrons during the pandemic.

“We don’t in any way want to do anything we can’t execute as safely as possible,” Brian Gullbrants, president of Wynn’s Boston property, said in an interview this week on the Bloomberg Baystate Business radio program. “This is an evolving situation.”

The decisions by Wynn, one of the most prominent casino operators in the country, highlight the changes gamblers can expect when they return to resorts that have been closed for two months as a result of the coronavirus. Poker rooms are typically crowded, and the game is one of the least profitable for casinos.

Casino operators also plan to open with every other slot machine closed and will impose limits on how many people can play at a table. In some cases, they’ll do temperature checks. …

MGM Resorts International, the largest casino operator on the Las Vegas Strip, released plans earlier this week that showed sinks for hand-washing installed in the lobby of the Bellagio. The company is relying heavily on technology to make guests comfortable, such as online check-ins and mobile phones doubling as room keys at its hotels.

The changes will present challenges for players. Can you read a competitors’ face in poker when it’s hidden behind a protective mask? Is it polite to blow on the dice before rolling in craps, as many people do for good luck?

Virtually all of the nearly 1,000 casinos in the U.S. were closed as result of the coronavirus, and 52 are open now, according to a running tally by the American Gaming Association.

This sort of soft start will help out the casinos to a degree only. Being able to eliminate less profitable games sounds good in theory but they are still profit off the floor and avid poker or crabs players will likely not suddenly move to slots or roulette.

Any type of table game does in fact prove to be a challenge for casino operators and of course players due to the very nature of chips constantly changing hands.

I would also imagine that “blowing” on dice will also be a no-no, after all it’s pretty much spitting on the dice which has always grossed me out even pre-Corona. Craps in High Limit means that it’s usually a $100 minimum although casinos can adjust the minimums according to their needs so if management decides that business is slow even a $50 limit could count as High Limit.

Other industry giants are also gearing up to open their doors as local Las Vegas Fox News reports about Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars Entertainment said it will reopen its U.S. properties in phases in line with local response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of its properties, Caesars Palace could be the first to open on the Las Vegas Strip. Depending on demand, Rodio said they may open up to four properties on the Strip.

If there’s no spike in coronavirus cases, Caesars CEO Tony Rodio said Las Vegas Strip properties could open before the end of May.

Caesars said the decision to reopen would be determined by applicable government agencies or tribal bodies. Caesars said they would open properties in phases based on demand and capacity. …

“We look forward to welcoming our guests and team members back to our properties as soon as it is appropriate to do so,” Rodio said in a statement ahead of Monday’s earnings call. “We are implementing new protocols focused on the wellbeing of our team members, guests and communities to create environments with high standards of sanitization and physical distancing practices. We are working closely with public health authorities, gaming regulators and infectious disease specialists to design our plan.”

As part of the plan, Caesars said it will provide masks to all employees and will require a mask while working. Some team members will also receive gloves based on local guidelines and job tasks.

Caesars won’t require guests to wear a mask but said they would encourage them to do so and would provide masks to guests.

For social distancing, Caesars said they would limit table game and slot machine spots. Caesars said non-gaming offerings would likely reopen in phases with limited capacity, including entertainment, restaurants and bars.

As with the situation concerning flying and hotel stays I’m confident that things will eventually go back to normal but it will take some time for things to fade away. It will certainly feel a bit sterile to say the least and this would remind me a bit on casinos in Asia where I never get a real causal vibe no matter where I visit. Singapore, Macau, Korea or Manila… although beautifully built there really isn’t a fun atmosphere in these casinos.

Las Vegas doesn’t just have to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus but also the ongoing and upcoming recession to which the city and gaming industry nationwide has always been vulnerable. In times of record unemployment people don’t really take a trip to Las Vegas.

Conclusion

All the city and casino operators can do it put the best face on it and see how they can run their hotels and casinos on a basis where they won’t be bleeding money.

If you look at the Las Vegas Strip the two operators Caesars and MGM are the most dominant with a few others piling on such as the two Wynn properies Wynn & Encore. Treasure Island is an outlier as it’s pretty much a one man show. With the majorities of these casinos remaining dark for the time being I just hope that it won’t be too depressing.

It’s to be expected that room rates will come down significantly in the next year or so which might be a good opportunity to pay Vegas a visit if circumstances allow.

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