The Wall Street Journal reported that Las Vegas reopened on Thursday after nearly three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hotels and casinos implemented new social distancing and safety measures in an attempt to attract tourists, such as hand-washing sinks branded "Vegas Safely" complete with dispensers for gloves and masks, temperature screenings, socially distanced slot machines, mask-wearing card dealers, and hand sanitizer stations.
Vegas' long-standing selling point: pleasure. Business owners hope they can entire customers trying away from the mundane routine of home since sheltering-in-place and the civil unrest. The article highlighted that "The glitzy casinos reopening their doors is the latest example of an economy attempting to resuscitate itself after a shutdown that has the hospitality industry trying to figure out how to deliver its services amid social distancing.
"Wynn, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, the Venetian, New York-New York, and Treasure Island were among the properties expected to reopen their doors after casinos across the U.S. shut down in mid-March. In a city that attracted more than 42 million visitors last year, the eerily empty Strip has been an attraction to locals getting a glimpse of an unprecedented ghost town." In fact, the city suffered billions of dollars in losses in gambling revenue and left nearly a half-million unemployed.
Before allowing businesses to open, the State Gaming Control Board laid out some restrictions. It "limited gambling floors to 50% occupancy, socially-distance restaurants, and pools, maintain space between slot-machine players and keep nightclubs closed, among other measures. Nightclubs and big shows are still closed."
Some hotels specializing in luxury hospitality, such as the Bellagio, took extra measures to make sure guests' safety and comfort. They used "plexiglass shields between players at table games, body temperature screening for workers in the back-of-house and guests at the front, and a seal on hotel room doors that indicates to new guests they are the first to enter after a deep clean. Guests also received amenity bags with mask, hand sanitizer, and a stylus that can be used instead of a finger for tasks like pressing an elevator button or a slot machine."
John Flynn, MGM Resorts vice president of administration said, “We are a hospitality company, we are an entertainment company, but at the same time, we want to do this the right way."
Although on opening day traffic trickled into Vegas, Yahoo reported that "initial demand was so strong that several operators are now opening additional properties ahead of schedule. From local reports and our channel checks, the demand was strong with long lines and packed flights, similar to most regional gaming markets."
Other popular vacation hotspots, resorts, and theme parks that have yet to reopen will be closely watching how Vegas handles its resumption of operations amid the pandemic. They will also be looking to see what demand looks like in the months ahead in determining their fate and possible financial recovery. And finally, they will have to consider the unemployment rate since much of their revenue depends on people with discretionary income.