LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas is set to reopen casinos following its coronavirus lockdown, but guests should not expect a return to business as usual.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak set a tentative date of June 4 to reopen casinos statewide following two weeks of continued decreases in both new cases and hospitalizations. Should the decline continue through the weekend, Sisolak will hold a press conference on Tuesday to reveal further rollbacks as part of the next phase to reopen the state.
Virginia Valentine, president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association, applauded the governor's decision, calling it "fantastic news" for Nevada's gaming industry.
"Our members have spent more than two months preparing for this day," she said in an emailed statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "They've put in place enhanced health and safety plans and protocols ... Our members are excited to show off the enhancements they've made that preserve the experience while ensuring the well-being of our employees and visitors."
Casinos are required to submit plans for reopening, which will require approval at least seven days ahead of actually opening their doors. Other businesses, such as nightclubs, day clubs, buffets and large venues will remain closed – including the infamous Cirque du Soleil.
“You’re going to see a lot of social distancing,” said Sean McBurney, general manager at Caesars Palace. “If there’s crowding, it’s every employee’s responsibility to ensure there’s social distancing.”
Guests will see signs everywhere that remind them to wash their hands, maintain social distancing and limit gatherings to four people when possible.
The most striking difference will be a limit on games and participants: four players only at roulette, six at craps. Plastic partitions will separate dealers from players and players from each other at the Bellagio, three at each table, and slot machines will be shut down to discourage players from sitting near each other.
“Visually, you’ll still see a lot of color and activity, but you won’t be able to play every machine,” McBurney said.
New state Gaming Control Board regulations require that casinos disinfect surfaces and give “increased attention” to high-touch hotel items like television remote controls and light switches. Dice will be disinfected between shooters, chips cleaned periodically and card decks changed frequently.
At some resorts, guests will be encouraged to use cellphones for touchless check-in, as room keys, and to read restaurant menus. Large resorts will hand out free masks to guests, but won’t require their use.
“We all know what we’ve gone through for the last 10 weeks. No one’s having fun,” said Bill Hornbuckle, acting chief executive and president of casino giant MGM Resorts International. “The simple idea that I could get out, come to a resort, lay at a pool, enjoy a nice dinner, sit at a blackjack table. There’s something to be said for all of that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.