Las Vegas, and the rest of Nevada, has been anxious to return to normal for months, but continued COVID-19 issues have forced it to walk slowly. Casinos have been stuck at 50% of their normal capacities for too long and it looks like there might soon be a positive step forward. According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), new limits are coming on May 1, with additional measures waiting to be implemented right behind if everything goes well.
Vegas Strip Resorts, Others Go to 80%
The NGCB has held a tight grip on Nevada’s casinos and resorts as it became apparent how disastrous the COVID-19 pandemic was. However, it has now said that the state’s casinos will be able to conform to the regulations and policies as established by their respective counties. In the case of Las Vegas Valley, downtown Las Vegas, Laughlin and the Las Vegas Strip, which reside in Clark County, this means potentially increasing the capacity limits at the properties in the county to 80% as of May 1. In addition, social distancing measures will drop from six feet to three feet.
The board issued its latest directive last Friday and it is seen as an optimistic sign for recovery. The next step will be to return to 100%, but Clark County, the same as many other locations in the state, has a policy in place that prevents this from happening until at least 60% of the local population is vaccinated for the coronavirus. Casinos and resorts will be joined by other businesses in Clark County that is also ready to return to 100% capacity once the 60% is achieved. When that happens, the social distancing measures are expected to be entirely removed.
Some Parts of Vegas Still On Guard
Not all of Nevada’s casinos and resorts will be able to benefit from the changes. Clark County was able to find approval for its plan for returning to normalcy, but not everyone was so lucky. Washoe County, home to both Reno and Sparks, presented its plan and was likely surprised when it was rejected. The properties there will have to remain at 50% with social distancing of six feet until officials determine that the county is properly addressing COVID-19 issues.
In order to help speed up the entrance of a post-COVID-19, 100%-capacity environment in the state, several casinos and resorts are making it easy for their employees and residents to receive the coronavirus vaccine. A number of properties – including many operated by MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resort, Las Vegas Sands, Red Rock Resorts, Golden Entertainment, and Boyd Gaming – have on-site testing and/or vaccination available. The Cosmopolitan of Leas Vegas went a step further, announcing that it will hand out $1 million in employee bonuses as long as 80% of the workforce receives the vaccine by May 1. It hasn’t announced if it’s close to having to break out the wallet or if employees are willing to let the extra money slip through their fingers.