Update May 13, 2021: Boyd Gaming has joined the list of Las Vegas operators that can open casinos at 100% occupancy with no social distancing requirement. The company issued a statement on Thursday announcing the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s go-ahead for it to fully open the Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Aliante, Sam’s Town, Cannery, California, Fremont, and Jokers Wild casino floors. Indoor mask-wearing remains a requirement.
The board’s decision came as the percentage of Boyd Gaming staff who have received at least their first COVID-19 vaccine reached 80%. The operator has been covering paid leave for hourly employees to get their shots at on-site vaccination centers.
Getting back to normal
Las Vegas casinos are gradually getting back to normal as most properties are now able to open at 100% capacity. Casinos in the region had been operating at reduced capacity since they reopened for business in June 2020, following COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.
Most Las Vegas Strip casinos received the green light over the past couple of weeks. These properties must still adhere to capacity and social distancing measures in non-gaming areas. Some Las Vegas area casinos still need to get approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to start operating their gaming floors at full capacity again. In the meantime, they must continue to abide by the 80% occupancy limit.
Most Las Vegas Strip casinos received the green light over the past couple of weeks.
Once Nevada hits its vaccination targets, Governor Steve Sisolak has pinpointed June 1 as a potential date whereby all casinos will be able to finally roll back social distancing requirements and capacity limits.
Until then, here is a list of the casino operators that are currently able to operate their Las Vegas properties at full capacity.
All nine of the Caesars Entertainment properties in Las Vegas were able to begin operating at full capacity and without social distancing on May 12. These are Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Flamingo, The Cromwell, Harrah’s, Rio, Planet Hollywood, Paris Las Vegas, and The Linq.
Caesars Entertainment tweeted out the good news on Wednesday:
The casino operator has been offering vaccines to its staff and will continue to do so. Employees will still need to wear masks, while guests have to wear face coverings unless they are actively drinking, eating, or smoking on the premises.
MGM Resorts International
Also on Wednesday, MGM Resorts International revealed that it got the green light to operate the gaming floors at its Las Vegas properties at peak capacity once more, without any social distancing requirements. This covers the MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Aria, Park MGM, New York-New York, Excalibur, Luxor, and The Mirage.
MGM Resorts has been providing a free clinic at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for vaccinating workers, their families, entertainers, and certain partners. It also set up pop-up clinics across its various properties.
Speaking about the return to full capacity, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said: “This is yet another major milestone in Las Vegas’ incredible recovery and a testament to the importance of vaccination in the effort to full reopen our community.”
Station Casinos got approval to bring its several currently open Nevada gaming properties back to full capacity as of May 12. The facilities include the Vegas-based Red Rock Resort, Palace Station, Santa Fe Station, and Boulder Station. Green Valley Ranch and Sunset Station in Henderson also made the list.
The company sent out a tweet on Wednesday informing its customers of the changes:
The casino operator has been vaccinating employees at on-site clinics at its properties since April.
The Silverton Casino was also able to get back to full capacity on May 12. Plexiglass dividers separating gaming machines and table game players are no longer in place. Social distancing is also no longer necessary on the gaming floor, but employees and guests still have to wear masks. They also need to adhere to social distancing when away from the casino floor.
The Silverton had been offering on-site vaccinations for workers and their families.
The STRAT casino floor has been back to 100% capacity since May 10. It successfully managed to meet the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s requirements to safely reopen. The property will maintain certain measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing.
The casino’s ownership group Golden Entertainment provided a number of vaccine clinics for casino workers and their family members across its numerous properties in the region.
Wynn Resorts got approval to return to max capacity at its Wynn Las Vegas and Encore properties, effective May 3. It was the first Sin City casino operator to resume full occupancy after getting the all-clear from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, having fully vaccinated 88% of its workforce by May 1.
Wynn employees who have not been vaccinated need to undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas received regulatory approval on May 1 to reopen at full capacity. About 80% of the property’s workforce had been vaccinated up to May 4, when the company announced the good news.
The operator was offering incentives such as cash bonuses to employees to get vaccinated.
Optimism on the horizon
Despite getting the all-clear to open their gaming floors at full capacity, most Las Vegas casino operators are continuing to vaccinate their employees and run vaccination awareness campaigns.
Casinos are hoping that the return to full capacity will lead to improved revenues. For most of the time since the pandemic outbreak in March last year, Sin City visitor numbers have been significantly lower than usual. Many casinos stopped hosting guests midweek because of low demand.
Nevada saw its biggest monthly gaming win in eight years
However, gaming revenues and visitor numbers have been picking up in recent weeks and months. In March, Nevada saw its biggest monthly gaming win in eight years, reaching $1.07bn. The Las Vegas Strip accounted for $501.4m of the gaming win, a 44% rise month-on-month. The state also recorded the second-largest slot machine win in its history, reaching $772m.
In addition to sports betting revenues getting a big boost from the March Madness college basketball tournament, easing pandemic restrictions and stimulus payments are some of the reasons experts are attributing to the strong March figures.