Nevada May Still Be On Pause, But Casinos Play On And Remain Open

Written By Marc Meltzer on December 14, 2020 - Last Updated on December 16, 2020

During a press conference on Sunday evening, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak extended the current “pause” to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The pause restrictions have been in effect for three weeks and will continue until at least Jan. 15.

Extending the “pause” means that Nevada casinos will remain open for the rest of the year and into 2021. Nevada casinos are under similar restrictions as many other businesses. Capacity will remain limited to 25% inside casinos, restaurants, and bars. Everyone must still wear a mask inside of a casino.

Public gatherings like shows will be allowed to operate in front of 50 people or 25% capacity – whichever is less.

Don’t expect to see Nevada casinos close again in 2020

Earlier this year, Nevada casinos were ordered to close in an effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Don’t expect casinos to close again unless something drastic happens. Based on Sisolak’s comments, it appears as though casinos in Las Vegas throughout Nevada will not close again in the foreseeable future.

First Sisolak commented on the financial loss Nevada takes when casinos are closed:

“…the State loses an estimated $52 million in gaming tax revenue a month. That doesn’t include room tax, live entertainment tax, and more.”

He continued to discuss the financial toll closing casinos is taking on casino employees:

“I lose sleep at night because when we were under a stay at home order in the spring, we lost a quarter of a million jobs in three months in this State…and that’s largely due to casinos being closed for 78 days straight. I’m thinking of our blackjack dealers, our cooks, our valet drivers, our housekeepers, and our performers. They are what makes up our amazing hospitality industry, which makes up one of the largest shares of workers in the state.”

Keeping the pause intact means the state will receive some tax revenue from casinos for gaming, dining, lodging, and entertainment.

This will also keep a portion of the workforce employed. During the early part of the pandemic, the unemployment rate in Nevada reached 30.1%. The approximately 250,000 people out of work was the highest level ever reported by any state in modern history.

Balancing health and economy

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing everyone’s mettle. Dealing with this pandemic isn’t easy for anyone from Nevada residents to businesses and the government. Sisolak is trying to balance the health of Nevada residents while keeping the economy afloat.

Hospitality is the number one business in Nevada. Keeping this industry open will help financially for employees and the state. Coronavirus cases in Nevada continue to grow. Sisolak is hopeful the restrictions in place for all businesses will somehow slow the spread. Sisolak says:

“This statewide “Pause” implemented incredibly strict mitigation measures in an effort to both protect lives and protect our fragile economy.”

There’s a difficult balance between health and economy Sisolak has to take into account while moving Nevada forward in the fight against coronavirus.

Enjoy Vegas lite

The Las Vegas casino experience remains different than in previous years. Having said that, lower visitation in December is reminiscent of Las Vegas prior to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) becoming so popular for two weeks.

Casino floors, bars and restaurants can only have 25% of capacity. Anecdotally, Las Vegas casinos used to operate at this capacity in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Large scale entertainment like the NFR and adjacent events increased visitation during this period in recent years.

January should remain the same without the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This is the largest convention of the year in Las Vegas with nearly 200,000 people visiting Las Vegas.

The quieter times in Las Vegas can be some of the best times. Getting a spot at a table game or slot machine should be easy. Reservations at restaurants and the operating spas shouldn’t be a problem either.

Entertainment is certainly lacking in Las Vegas. There are minimal shows open and some will have to close with the limited audience capacity.

Clubs are open but the experience is socially distanced for safety. Visitors shouldn’t expect to dance all night long.

It’s a strange time in this world for a lot of people. However, this pause makes this a great time to explore parts of Las Vegas that normally wouldn’t be accessible.

Photo by Trekandshoot |
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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