Nevada may never be the same following the COVID-19 pandemic. After suffering months of zero or near-zero revenue amid tight health restrictions, the state began fully returning to normal at the beginning of this month. However, a number of long-time gambling properties remain shuttered as their owners determine what’s next. Some are likely to try to reopen later this year, while others will never again host the bells and dings of slot machines or the clicking of chips on their gaming tables.
Nevada Gets a New Landscape
The Las Vegas Review-Journal highlights in a new article how Nevada’s landscape is changing. Even though Governor Steve Sisolak lifted many COVID-19 restrictions at the beginning of this month, there are more than a few gambling properties that haven’t been able to figure out what comes next. For example, Main Street Station and Eastside Cannery, two properties operated by Boyd Gaming, are still shut down after having last seen customers in March 2020. Main Street is supposed to relaunch sometime later this year, according to comments made by Boyd last year, but a lot has happened since then.
Station Casinos has a number of properties that are still waiting to be greenlighted by the bosses to reappear on Nevada’s gambling scene. Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho just had their business licenses placed on hold by Station for the second year in a row, meaning the company doesn’t anticipate the properties opening until June of next year, if at all. The operator’s Boulder Station, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Red Rock Resort, Sunset Station, Santa Fe Station and Wildfire Gaming properties are already back in business, with another, Fiesta Henderson, expected to return at some point this year. The Palms was formerly a Station property until it was sold to the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for $65 million last month, and it, too, is still closed, according to its website.
The Cal-Nev-Ari Casino and Bar is one of many smaller, independent properties that, if not for its special purpose, would likely be permanently shut down. The property reopened its bar on April 1, keeping the gaming floor closed, but drinks can only be enjoyed during the day since the bar isn’t open at night. That’s because Cal-Nev-Ari is also the small town’s post office. As of the middle of March this year, 13 casinos in the state were still closed, but two have since reopened.
The Gold Rush in the Silver State
Just because a number of gambling facilities are still temporarily closed and others are permanently removed, this doesn’t mean that Nevada’s economy is in the tank. Many of the properties that are still closed weren’t making their operators much money before the pandemic, and wouldn’t be able to provide a lot of support now. However, Nevada has started to rebound quickly, and state and business leaders are preparing to usher in a new gold rush.
Nevada visitor arrivals are on the rise, with 2.5 million travelers descending on the state in April. That was the highest number since before COVID-19, but it is still down 27% from what was seen before the pandemic began. Hotel occupancies are up at least 65%, sometimes exploding to as much as 83%. What’s going to emerge following the pandemic is a different Nevada, one that doesn’t just rely on slot machines and gaming tables. It will focus more on conventions and other activities that can bring in the crowds, giving Nevada the ability to cater to different segments that will allow it to appeal to a wide range of markets and, ultimately, attract more revenue.