George Floyd Protests in Vegas Won’t Delay Thursday Casino Reopenings

  • MGM CEO said the company supported the right to peaceful demonstrations
  • Casinos set to reopen June 4, with an ad campaign welcoming back visitors
  • National Guard called up by Governor Steve Sisolak to respond to riots in Reno
  • High demand for reservations encouraged Caesars to also reopen Harrah's Las Vegas
People protesting the death of George Floyd on the streets of Las Vegas
Despite protests on the Strip following the death of George Floyd, many casinos across Vegas will reopen as scheduled on June 4. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Casinos to reopen June 4 despite protests

Despite violent protests in downtown Las Vegas over racial prejudice following the death of George Floyd, casino companies across the valley remain focused on opening this Thursday.

Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO of MGM Resorts International, addressed a letter to employees on Monday. He said the company supported the right to peaceful demonstrations against abhorrent acts, stating:

We unequivocally reject racism, in any form.”

Hornbuckle added that MGM believes “diversity is the soul of creativity and the heart of entertainment. There is no hospitality for hatred here and we will not accept it anywhere else.”

Vegas determined to welcome back tourists

MGM plans to reopen its properties on June 4 as planned, along with other casino operators. Las Vegas is set to launch a Welcome Back ad campaign targeting visitors to Sin City.

“Right now, there’s no change in plans, and we believe law enforcement has done a good job allowing peaceful protests,” said Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokesman Rich Broome. He added that the operator will remain in close contact with government officials and the Metropolitan Police. Gambling premises are set to provide “extra security on hand throughout the weekend.”

Coronavirus and now civil unrest

Visitors to Vegas will now have civil unrest to consider along with COVID-19 risks. Late Saturday, the National Guard was called up by Governor Steve Sisolak to respond to riots in Reno, with the mayor declaring a citywide emergency.

On the Strip, squads of Metro police released tear gas and shot plastic-covered projectiles filled with irritant powder into crowds. During the weekend, there were reports of Molotov cocktails thrown by protestors.

The unrest and protests which erupted following the death of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on his neck come in the wake of a robust response to the city’s scheduled reopening of casinos.

State body issues strong statement

The Nevada Resort Association, which represents 70 resorts statewide, issued a statement on Monday denouncing racism, prejudice, hatred, and violence.

a significant national conversation taking place”

“We recognize the pain […] and the urgency to create lasting and meaningful change that uplifts the African-American community and all communities of color and diverse populations. We understand there is a significant national conversation taking place,” it said.

High demand for reservations

Last week, Caesars Entertainment said demand for reservations was so high, it would reopen Harrah’s Las Vegas on Friday at 11am in addition to Thursday’s 10am opening of Caesars Palace and the Flamingo.

MGM Resorts also added MGM Grand to its planned reopening list, which already included the Bellagio and New York-New York. Wynn Resorts Ltd’s Wynn and Encore Las Vegas will open as planned, along with Downtown’s The D, Golden Gate, and Plaza.

One of the businesses damaged in the protests, El Cortez, has changed its opening time from Thursday 12:01am to 8am. Speaking to local TV station KNTV, the hotel-casino’s general manager Adam Wiesberg said: “It was 99 percent peaceful, respectful. People trying to convey a very important message, but we just got caught in the crossfire.”