What is it going to be like returning to casinos? This is something to ponder while looking forward to the next phase of this global pandemic. Nevada casinos were ordered to close by Gov. Steve Sisolak in March.
Nevada casinos haven’t been given the green light to reopen yet but it seems as though it won’t be too far away. Casinos all around the country are laying the groundwork for reopening as Nevada residents continue to stay at home to keep the spread of coronavirus down.
It appears as though social distancing and cleaning measures are keeping casino guests safe in the early days of casinos opening around the US. The Nevada Gaming Control Board and casino operators have been preparing health and safety plans for when the gambling houses can reopen.
Casinos won’t look the same when they reopen. Gamblers returning to casinos might have a different approach as well. There are a lot of unknowns about the future of casinos. The one thing we do know is that the experience will be different at first.
Reopening Nevada Casinos
When Nevada casinos reopen there will be two very noticeable changes. Casinos will be cleaning more often and there will be fewer guests. Nevada Gaming Control will limit casinos to 50% occupancy in gaming areas at first.
The experience inside casinos when upon reopening will feel more like a leisurely afternoon than the party many have experienced over the years. The capacity inside of casinos should change as the world moves forward.
Boyd Gaming just released its Boyd Clean plan for reopening casinos. In addition to cleaning often, the new plan initially noted that “smoking is not permitted at table games.” That was removed this morning.
The capacity limits are just a temporary measure. It’s difficult to imagine guests smoking while wearing the recommended face mask but when there’s a will there’s a way.
When Will Poker Rooms Reopen?
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is limiting poker tables to four players when casinos reopen. Poker rooms aren’t big moneymakers for casinos to begin with and limiting the number of players at the tables will reduce any revenue this part of the casino generates.
Bloomberg is reporting that the poker room at Wynn Las Vegas won’t open with the rest of the casino. It’s possible, even likely, that many casinos on the Vegas Strip will keep their poker rooms shuttered at first. Spending money on strange plexiglass contraptions to protect players doesn’t seem like it makes financial sense for these casinos.
Poker rooms inside the casinos elsewhere in Nevada could return with limited players. While the poker rooms on the Vegas Strip are seen amenities, they operate differently elsewhere. Visiting poker rooms is one of many excuses for many Nevada residents to visit locals casinos. Once inside the casino, poker players could decide to have a meal, gamble elsewhere, or just have a few drinks.
Having said that, Station Casinos just announced that it wouldn’t be opening poker rooms during phase one of its reopening.
What Will Happen With Sportsbooks?
It’s going to be interesting to see how sportsbooks in Nevada reopen. While casinos were closed, Nevada sportsbook operators have been encouraging sports bettors to use mobile sports betting apps to place wagers.
At first, there were only four Nevada sports betting apps taking wagers. More sportsbook apps opened and some even offered curbside service for setting up and funding mobile apps. Thanks to the stay at home order, Nevada sports betting apps have become a necessity for sports bettors.
When BetMGM launched in Nevada the company announced it was adding 100 sports betting kiosks to its Las Vegas sportsbooks. MGM Resorts has been making a major push towards automation with the digital portion of its companywide MGM 2020 plan.
Casinos throughout the state are slowly embracing sports betting kiosk technology. Properties have been adding kiosks for more than a year. Retail sportsbooks opening outside of Nevada often have a wall of kiosks for bettors. These units might become more useful as casino guests use machines to limit personal interactions.
New sports to wager on
In addition to new technology to place wagers, there’s been an uptick on wagering with sports not on TV during this stay at home period. Russian table tennis has come out of nowhere to become a staple of sports betting. Even though mainstream American sports started this weekend Russian table tennis stole the show at William Hill sportsbooks.
Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill’s US Director of Trading recently told VSIN that “Russian Table Tennis had 5x the handle of soccer, NASCAR, and golf combined from Sunday.” While this probably won’t surpass the big four sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) is could be a sign that sports bettors don’t necessarily need to sit inside of a casino to wager on sports.
When sportsbooks open at casinos there will only be a limited number of seats available because of social distancing measures. There will always be guests who enjoy the sportsbook experience but will every sports bettor return to the casino to bet or even watch the games? It’s possible that Nevada casinos will take a new approach to how guests watch and wager on sports.
Remote Sports Betting Account Registration
While we’re discussing mobile sports wagering…should Nevada sports bettors have to visit a casino to open a sports betting account? Most states with legal sports betting allow for remote account setup and funding.
Thanks to lobbying from casino and sportsbook operators Nevada Gaming Control still does not allow remote mobile account setup. This is something to reconsider as casino guests try to limit face to face interactions.
The Return Of Free Parking On The Vegas Strip
Customers have been complaining about parking fees on the Vegas Strip since they were implemented. All it took for free parking to return to the Vegas Strip was a global pandemic that caused casinos to close for two months.
This week MGM Resorts and the Cosmopolitan announced their companies won’t charge for parking when its casinos reopen. Self-parking will be free and there won’t be valet available for the foreseeable future. By the time this article is posted, Caesars Entertainment will likely follow the leaders and remove paid parking when the company reopens its Nevada casinos.
Wynn and Encore rolled back parking fees prior to being closed to slow the spread of coronavirus. The other properties on and around the Vegas Strip never charged for parking. Westgate is the exception but the casino only charges a fee when there’s a big expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
This is a good time for casino operators on the Vegas Strip to consider removing parking fees. According to the most recent Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s Visitor Profile ore than half the visitors to Las Vegas arrive by automobile. That’s a large portion of the customer base for many of the casino operators on the Vegas Strip.