“The stakes could not be higher”
says Robert Lang, executive director of the Brookings Mountain West think tank at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Many properties have aimed for a June 1 restart in the gambling mecca closed almost overnight in the middle of a hot streak.
“Las Vegas can never be known as the place where people go and get sick,”
Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is eyeing a restart date now. Resort owners submitted health and safety rules to state regulators preparing for the end to the shutdown.
“We all know what we’ve gone through for the last 10 weeks.
No one’s having fun”
confesses Bill Hornbuckle, acting chief executive and president of casino giant MGM Resorts International.
“The simple idea that I could get out, come to a resort, lay at a pool, enjoy a nice dinner, sit at a blackjack table. There’s something to be said for all of that.”
Many properties have targeted a June 1 restart in the gambling paradise which had been closed sudddenly while in the middle of a hot streak — three consecutive $1 billion months in statewide casino winnings.
At the time, the city had been drawing more than 40 million annual visitors.
Once allowed, the city will welcome back non-stop crowds for excitement and excess. But not every resort will be open.
Nightclubs, dayclubs and large venues will remain closed.
Cirque du Soleil shows will stay dark, at least for now.
Signs everywhere will remind guests of new rules: Wash your hands; keep distance from others; limit your elevator ride to your sanitized room to just four people.
“You’re going to see a lot of social distancing”
said Sean McBurney, general manager at Caesars Palace. “If there’s crowding, it’s every employee’s responsibility to ensure there’s social distancing.”
Some examples of the new normal
Dice will be disinfected between shooters, chips cleaned periodically and card decks changed frequently. At some resorts guests will be encouraged to use cellphones for touchless check in, as room keys, and to read restaurant menus.
“A gondola pilot wearing a face mask will be on board to steer the vessel,” a Venetian statement says. “Gondoliers stationed along the canal will serenade passengers from an appropriate distance.”
Guests will get free masks at large resorts, but won’t be forced to use them. For blackjack dealers, bellhops, reservation clerks, security guards, housekeepers and waiters, masks are mandatory.
“That’s the most visual thing. Every employee will be required to wear a mask,”
McBurney explains. Other rules: four players only at roulette, six at craps. Plastic partitions will separate dealers from players and players from each other at the Bellagio, three at each table.
MGM Resorts plans to open just two of its 10 Strip properties at first: Bellagio and New York-New York.
Hornbuckle promises Bellagio’s iconic dancing fountains will restart as soon as the governor sets a date. Still, just 1,200 of the hotel’s 4,000 rooms will be rented and casinos will be limited to 50% of capacity.
“You’re going to see less people, by control and by design,”
Caesars Entertainment plans to open Caesars Palace and the Flamingo Las Vegas at first, followed later by Harrah’s Las Vegas and the casino floor at the LINQ hotel-casino.
Lang called it unlikely that big crowds will return quickly.
“First will be residents of Las Vegas.
Then people getting here by car from California.
Then domestic air flights. Then international,” sources say.
McBurney said that with nearly 4,000 rooms at Caesars Palace, he expected just one of six towers will be occupied.