The Strip reopens this week following an unprecedented two-a-half-month shutdown to slow the spreading coronavirus pandemic. Remaining on the sidelines, however, are the arenas, showrooms and convention spaces utilized for non-gaming attractions that have become part of its financial lifeblood and attracted so many tourists last year.
Signaling the deep economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, statewide gambling revenue in April dropped 99.61 percent compared to what casino and online operators collected in April last year, the Gaming Control Board reported.
Resorts must check guests’ temperature upon arrival or have a medical professional on property at all times and require guests to complete a symptom self-assessment, according to an updated policy released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board as casinos gear up for reopening.
Nevada’s casinos could welcome back customers as soon as June 4, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday afternoon. The governor plans to hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss entering Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a notice to the state’s licensed casino gaming industry on Thursday night outlining the steps needed for a restaurant inside a casino to reopen. The state’s gaming industry was not included in Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Phase 1 reopening plan, though restaurants and other retail stores are now allowed to operate limited in-person services with strict social distancing measures in place.
Eliminating 276,300 gaming and tourism jobs in the weeks following the unprecedented shutdown of Nevada’s casino industry on March 18 was a painful process. Now comes an even more challenging dilemma for casino operators – how many employees are brought back initially under COVID-19 health and safety guidelines established by Nevada gaming regulators last week?
In an hourlong videoconference meeting on Thursday, commissioners unanimously approved guidelines released Friday by the Gaming Control Board. The seven-page document included guidance — such as limiting the number of people around table games, increasing cleaning of high-touch items such as light switches, and keeping nightclubs closed — that casinos are recommended to have in reopening plans that must be approved by regulators.
The parent organization of the Culinary Union has developed a detailed set of safety guidelines it wants to see implemented before casinos reopen to the public — and they are significantly more rigorous than the general recommendations offered by state gaming regulators.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Friday released a memo outlining health and safety policies that casinos must include in their COVID-19 prevention plans, underscoring the dramatic changes being forced upon the industry by the pandemic.
Small and medium-sized gaming businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic are now eligible for loans under the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion Main Street Lending Program, the central bank announced.
The regulatory agency that oversees casinos is already working on a policy mapping out guidelines for larger resorts and other gaming establishments to reopen, Gaming Control Board Chair Sandra Douglas Morgan said Wednesday, though the gaming industry is likely to be included in a later phase of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan.
The total shutdown of gaming in the state has major implications for state revenues that support schools, social services and other state programs. Gambling taxes make up about 18 percent of state general fund revenue, and that doesn’t count other revenues flowing from the hospitality industry such as sales taxes.
An investment banker who has been involved in the gaming sector over the last four decades told Nevada’s casino leadership that an economic recovery on the Strip from the coronavirus pandemic shutdown will be slow, accomplished in phases and is dependent on McCarran International Airport traffic returning to a high volume.
While the SBA originally blocked from a loan any business that derived one third of its annual revenue from legal gambling, the SBA guidelines were revised on Tuesday to allow “small casinos” to qualify for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as long as gaming revenue made up less than half of total business revenue and was less than $1 million. But the change still leaves most gaming businesses, such as Malone’s, without help.