Las Vegas Hit Hard by Covid-19

According to longtime Las Vegas casino owner Michael Gaughan, Las Vegas might not go back to normal until early 2022, which is over a full calendar year away. Not only does that mean Vegas will continue to suffer economically, but also that sin city citizens will most likely not have a job to go back to for quite a while.

“I’ve been here since 1952 and this is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to (Las Vegas),” said Gaughan who owns the South Point Casino in Las Vegas. “I don’t think it can get any worse. Hopefully, by the end of March or April, this will be over.”

In economic terms, Las Vegas reportedly lost around 250,000 jobs in a matter of two months and now has an unemployment rate of 14.9%. While unemployment remains a huge problem in the state at the moment, Vegas also reportedly lost a great deal of revenue due to the initial shutdown affecting their convention and trade show schedule.

Strip hotels and tourism really hurting

Hotels on the strip are also bleeding red in this situation, especially since tourism has come to a screeching halt and it looks like it’s going to be that way for quite a while. Even if hotels had customers however, it would be very difficult to keep each facility clean, and enforce social distancing.

“Strip hotels will have their work cut out for them,” Gaughan said regarding the devastation that Covid-19 has had on the Las Vegas economy ” I do think that by the start of 2022, we should be back to completely normal. I just hope Las Vegas can get back to where it was. Everybody is trying to survive and keep as many working as they can.”

And then there is the tourism industry, which has been shaken to its core and shows no sign of improving in the fall. In fact, with Dr. Fauci warning of an increase in Coronavirus cases in the fall and the regular flu season, it could be years before the tourism industry is back to where it was. For the time being and the near future, social distancing measures will most likely have to become the new norm.

Casinos have also been absolutely levelled by the ongoing pandemic, forcing them to only operate at half capacity and take several safety precautions each day. Despite the best efforts of sanitary workers to clean up the casino’s however, the CDC still lists anything besides online poker as more risk or higher risk. This means that gamblers must choose between enjoying their hobby and staying safe.

The new normal?

This also means the new normal, which could include a variety of safety measures, will need to be embraced by all for everyone to stay safe. For example, with poker games being a higher risk activity, casinos could limit each table to four people and have an automated dealer give each player cards. Maybe gamblers enter their bets virtually at the table for now on and chips are calculated that way.

Some might find that to be a little too Brave New World, but it was only one year ago that several Las Vegas casinos had automated cocktail servers installed, and that was before the pandemic. Now with Covid-19 running rampant across the globe, casinos and other places of business are going to need to find ways to cut down on human contact to keep people safe.

Cutting down on human contact?

That means if there is any way to cut down on human to human contact, the casino will likely go for that option. There will also probably be more of an emphasis on hygiene, which could include anything from sanitation stations, temperature checks and maybe even some measure of permanent social distancing.

As for shows, they will likely get back to a new normal as well, but feature mandatory mask wearing and some measure of social distancing. Whether Las Vegas has any ideas on how to run conventions, concerts and trade shows without it becoming a super spreader remains to be seen, but they would arguably have the biggest hill to climb to go back to normal.

In the end, normal is a subjective term and it’s going to take quite a while to even get back to. Once society does finally arrive at that new normal, Las Vegas can reopen and hopefully prosper like before. Maybe there could even be a short-term boom for Vegas due to the build up of desire to go out and enjoy life again!

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.