Gambling Today: Las Vegas Won't Look the Same When Tourists Return

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When tourists and locals return to the Las Vegas strip post-COVID-19 shutdown, they may not recognize their favorite destinations. Casinos, per the Nevada Gaming Control Board, will be forced to comply with strict social distancing policies.

The Control Board released a memo outlining how casinos will be mandated to operate upon reopening. Here is an excerpt from the of the NGCB document:

"Casinos must limit the number of patrons based on type of game to ensure proper distance between players by limiting the number of seats or betting positions per table. For example, player limit per table should be limited to: three players per blackjack table, six players per craps table and four players per roulette table."

The guidelines also direct all casino supervisors and security to ensure that patrons are prevented from simply congregating around all pit-area table games as well as sports books, keno lounges and bingo halls. Gamblers will also be forced to play slot machines with significant distance between players. It has yet to be determined just exactly how many “empty machines of distance” will be required.

Those who visit Vegas for the amazing nightlife and party scene will also not like to hear that all night clubs and pool parties will remain closed, even post-shutdown, for the foreseeable future. Social distancing guidelines are impossible to enforce in nightclubs or in crowded outdoor pool parties. Initially, five-star restaurants and lobby bar options will be extremely limited. Buffets, perhaps the biggest staple in the Vegas food industry, will be a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.

That plan is part of an overall goal of ensuring proper distance between players by limiting the number of seats or betting positions at each type of gaming table. Casinos should allow no more than 50 percent of the maximum occupancy as determined by local building and fire codes inside of its facility at one time.

Governor Steve Sisolak issued an emergency directive closing all casinos as well as non-essential venues on March 18, which was originally extended through at least May 15. However we learned earlier today that the timeline has been moved up to commence “Phase 1” at 12:01 am on Saturday, May 9. Sisolak is on record stating that casinos will be part of the “later phases” involved with the reopening of the state's economy.

Tourists aren’t just canceling their summer trip for fiscal reasons as many are concerned that simply getting on a plane could put their lives at risk. Travelers need to be convinced that Las Vegas is a safe destination before tourism returns. However, just how attractive will Sin City be with so many limitations and closures? That’s the million dollar ... I mean, billion dollar question.