The Las Vegas gambling scene is beginning to experience new signs of life following the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Las Vegas Casinos Say They Are Doing Well As They Rebound
On Thursday, two Las Vegas casinos told the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) that they are doing well after the industry rebound from the pandemic. That’s a good thing, too, because one of them has to pay a $60,000 fine for violating COVID-19 protocols.
During the meeting, the NGC signed a settlement with the Mohegan Sun Casino in Virgin Hotels Las Vegas for violating the state’s protocols on March 25. The Mohegan Sun, based in Connecticut, operates the new Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Las Vegas, which opened in the place of the former Hard Rock Las Vegas.
The new CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, Ray Pineault, and the owner of Sahara Las Vegas, Alex Meruelo, were visiting with the commission this week to talk about what’s in store for the casinos as the recovery continued. In addition to settling the violation, and probably, in part, as a result, Pineault was certified as a key executive and manager of the property.
COVID-19 Protocol Violations Lead to Several Fines
The casino’s COVID-19 violations were due to failure of social distancing and mask-wearing measures enforcement. The $60,000 is the largest single fine; however, it is still lower than the $75,000 fine issued last fall for protocol violations at the Sahara and Grand Sierra Resort.
Commission Chairman John T. Moran, Jr. said, “This is a long way away from some of the complaints we saw during this horrible time of COVID. There was outright defiance out there and continual violations. You guys ponied up, and everything went well.” His comments were directed at both Pineault and Meruelo for their respective transgressions.
Nevada’s Casino Industry Begins to Rebuild
In addition to confirming Pineault’s new roles, the NGC approved an application Meruelo, through his Meruelo Group, had submitted as part of a loan package. That application guarantees a membership interest in the Grand Sierra Resort, which was given to Bank of America in an arrangement worked out last December for financial assistance.
Moran added, “I think it’s pretty amazing that with COVID, we have the gamers still out there alive and well. Places like you opened in the midst of it, which is an incredible hurdle.” In addition to the new Virgin property, Circa Las Vegas opened late last year and Resorts World Las Vegas just opened its doors yesterday.
More Recovery on the Way
As Nevada recovers and opens up for business, its unemployment rate drops significantly. Things are returning to normal as the state recently reported it added 10,200 jobs in May, which brought the unemployment rate to 7.8% from 9%. The state’s natural unemployment rate is 4%. Most of the new job openings are in the hospitality and leisure sector, Nevada’s primary source of income.
According to predictions by analysts last year, the state’s recovery could take 18 to 36 months. They said that Nevada’s economy could return to its pre-pandemic levels by 2023. Analysts estimated that job cuts and inter-state quarantine measures could slow down recovery.