While Las Vegas casinos remain closed per Governor Steve Sisolak’s demands, casinos around neighboring Arizona reopened strong this past weekend. Five casinos around Phoenix offered a glimpse into what post COVID-19 measures and what pent-up angst could very well look like on the Las Vegas strip in the very near future.
Long lines began forming in the early morning hours and wrapped around Harrah’s Ak-Chin casino, eager for doors to open. Once it was time, crowds cheered and people flooded in past staff members (wearing masks) who held doors open while reminding guests to keep their distance. After months of isolation and boredom, gamblers were excited to get inside and be able to sit down at a slot machine or a blackjack table.
Slot machines were arranged to allow for social distancing while seating at various table-games were limited. The property’s poker room, as well as keno and bingo, remained closed.
The big distinction between Arizona properties and Las Vegas properties is the Arizona properties tend to draw more locals whereas the Las Vegas strip aims to cater to a national and international market with lavish attractions and gourmet eateries.
Commercial casinos in Louisiana and Arkansas opened on Monday, while those in Mississippi plan to open on Thursday. Those located in Missouri plan to open on June 1. The states say that the properties have been redesigned with social distancing restrictions and sanitation safeguards in place to protect against a resurgence of the coronavirus.
Eldorado Resorts Inc., which opened its three Louisiana casinos (Isle of Capri Lake Charles, Belle of Baton Rouge and Eldorado Shreveport) on Monday, will look to reopen many of its other properties nationwide soon. Eldorado owns and operates 23 casinos in 11 states: Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey and Ohio. The company is on the verge of acquiring Caesars Entertainment Corp. for an estimated $17.3 billion, a deal expected to close by the end of June.
However, not all the news was positive in Louisiana as one property announced it would not be able to survive the coronavirus shutdown.
The DiamondJacks Casino & Hotel in Bossier City announced Friday that it would be closing its doors for good “due to business circumstances caused by the unexpected impact of the coronavirus.”
“In light of the sudden, unforeseeable market conditions that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult decision has been made to close the casino,” said Diana Thornton, Vice President of Finance at DiamondJacks. “We have worked diligently to be a valued member of the Shreveport-Bossier City business community. We are saddened for the loss of a longtime business here in Louisiana.”
Casinos remain closed in Nevada, where the economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism in general. Nevada gambling officials last week approved rules to limit customers, keep gamblers spaced apart—while closing nightclubs, pool parties, spas and buffets when the state’s casinos do reopen. With the immense reduction in attractions and amenities, the Las Vegas strip will face a tremendous task in convincing gamblers to travel, especially via plane, in the upcoming summer months.
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