At 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the city of Las Vegas opened its doors back up to customers looking to get some sense of normalcy back in their lives. The move comes after businesses and casinos were shut down for over two months.
Experts say that it could be years before some Las Vegas casinos get back on track financially. However, that healing process had to begin at some point, even if it comes at the chagrin of those in the medical field.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it’s still best to remain inside and not put yourself at risk of getting the COVID-19 virus. This comes amid some controversy, as we’re already seeing thousands of people protest in nearly every American city.
What’s the harm in having people play a couple of in-person hands of blackjack at their local casino?
“The past few months have presented our city with an unprecedented challenge,” said Derek Stevens, owner of two downtown Las Vegas casinos that closed along with all gambling establishments in the state 79 days ago. “We are excited to get our employees back to work and to welcome guests to the entertainment capital of the world.”
Back in April, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman went on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss plans about reopening the town. Goodman received harsh criticism for her appearance on that program, not giving the coronavirus enough seriousness, and basically blowing the whole thing off. Here we are, six weeks later, and Goodman got her wish.
From an excerpt on her statement of reopening Las Vegas, Goodman said, “Las Vegas is in a unique economic crisis. Our city, over the past half-century, has worked diligently to become America’s and the world’s most beloved vacation and convention destination. In order to have accomplished this, we have had to structure an economy wholly dependent on the hospitality industry.”
Goodman would continue:
“Although it has not been clearly determined as to the effect that extreme warmth will have on the virus, it is assumed that it shall deter its ferocity. We certainly are looking forward to having our desert heat provide that require substantiation.
“Our hot summer coupled with our unique economy compel us to be the forefront of America’s ‘reopening.’ Las Vegans are smart and courageous. We need to act first, and we will.”
Industry Needs Business
By April, unemployment reached 28.2 percent – one of the highest in any state – and the near-zero winnings from casinos haven’t helped much either. This is an industry that thrives on open doors, and when that doesn’t happen, you’ll start to see the type of chaos that they are dealing with right now.
“This is going to be a pretty long, slow climb,” said Feldman, who was with MGM Resorts when Las Vegas experienced travel shortage after the 9/11 terror attacks, and later a huge dip in business during the Great Recession in 2008. “I’m hopeful it is a consistent climb, without setbacks.”
The opening of Las Vegas is somewhat of a case study that other states can look at before opening their own economies. It is expected that residents from nearby states like Arizona and California will start making their way to Sin City to let some steam off from the stress of the quarantine. It’s still too premature to expect visitors from out-of-state just yet.
“The market still relies heavily on air traffic, and the longer stays in Vegas are usually tied to mass social gatherings, including conventions … concerts and fights, all of which may take longer to recover,” said Robin Farley, UBS analyst.