Nevada Closes All Casinos Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

  • Month-long shutdown comes into effect at noon on Wednesday
  • Directive extends to slot machines found in convenience stores
  • All non-essential businesses in Nevada will also close their doors
  • State government expects significant financial hit, no accurate estimate yet
road sign with US flag elements reads shutdown
The governor of Nevada has ordered a shutdown of all gambling operations in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic. [Image:]

Coming to a standstill

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a month-long freeze on gambling operations which will see all casino facilities shut down by noon on Wednesday. The aim of the statewide closure is to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

all facilities shut down by noon on Wednesday

Major casino resorts in Las Vegas will have to cease their gambling operations and close their dining hall doors. Sisolak’s order also includes shutting down slot machines found in the likes of convenience stores.

All other forms of non-essential businesses such as bars, gyms, and movie theaters will also close under the governor’s directive. Restaurants cannot have open dining rooms but are able to offer delivery or takeout options. Mobile gaming apps will seemingly remain operational during this time.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman had previously been hopeful that restaurants and bars could remain open to help low-wage workers stay afloat.

Lives on the line

Sisolak announced the new measures during a news conference on Tuesday evening. He said, “This is affecting the lives of our citizens. People are dying. Every day that is delayed here, I’m losing a dozen people on the back end that are going to die as a result of this.”

Earlier this week, a number of Vegas casinos shut down their operations. However, the thousands of affected businesses in the whole state of Nevada will not even have a day to prepare for the closures.

Many governors in other states have enacted similar directives to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Coronavirus impact in Nevada

There have been more than 50 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nevada and a single death to date. As well as the casino shutdowns, the popular tourist attraction Hoover Dam is also going to close its doors to visitors.

The state government expects a significant financial hit as a result of the closures, but it cannot put an accurate estimate on the damage. 

Gambling taxes are the second-largest form of tax revenue in Nevada each year, only behind sales taxes. About 25% of all workers in the state are employed in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which are worth about $68bn to the state. While Governor Sisolak said that the state will be able to meet unemployment claims for now, assistance from the federal government will likely be needed.

There are no plans for Nevada officials to meet before the 2021 legislative session. No news of a special meeting to address budget concerns has been announced either. However, chief lawmakers said they are evaluating all options and working closely with the governor.  

An unprecedented move

The last time that Las Vegas shut all of its casinos was on November 25, 1963 for President John F. Kennedy’s funeral. The new directive is also said to be the first-ever time there has been a statewide closure of casinos in Nevada. 

A University of Nevada history professor, Michael Green, believes the intentional closures of casinos in the past week could be the fourth time this has happened since 1931, when Nevada first legalized gambling. He wrote, “The state occasionally revoked a license and ordered one closed, but nothing like this.”

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