Las Vegas casinos are reopening after being closed for more than two months to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The process of reopening, which began June 4, is much slower and more methodical than the closing of casinos in Las Vegas, as it must be done strategically and with compliance. The casino operators have a multitude of health and safety requirements to adhere to as they reopen.
These requirements are changing the landscape of what it’s like to be in a Las Vegas casino today. The good news is that the casinos are taking reopening seriously. Casinos are cleaner than ever. The bad news is that Las Vegas may not exactly be the same place you remember for a while. With the shows, music residencies, and nightclubs on pause, it will take some time for businesses in Las Vegas and around the world to return to the normal most people remember. It’s different than the flashy, carefree, amenity-packed Sin City of the past.
1. Limited capacity, social distancing, and fewer amenities
Casinos on the Vegas Strip are reopening in phases as customer demand warrants. Not every casino on the Vegas Strip and downtown Las Vegas has reopened just yet but more open every week or so.
Even when the casinos reopen, some venues inside might not available, such as every restaurant. Casinos and other businesses inside are limited to 50% capacity. There’s social distancing on the gambling floor, bars, restaurants, etc. The new measures can make the casinos feel very quiet in some areas and super busy in others.
2. Masks required in public
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak recently announced a mandate that requires all residents and visitors to wear a mask in public to help slow the spike in COVID-19 cases. Being inside of a casino is considered being out in public. The only exception is when eating and drinking.
If guests don’t wear a mask, an employee from the casino or other business will ask them to leave. Guests may drink and smoke by lowering the mask for a moment to take a sip or smoke.
3. Construction continues
Construction on some of the most anticipated Las Vegas projects is still in full swing. These include Circa, Virgin, Resorts World and Allegiant Stadium. The casino at Circa opens on October 28 while the hotel is taking reservations beginning December 28 — just in time for New Year’s Eve.
The transformation of the Hard Rock to Virgin is ongoing and should still open before the year is over. Resorts World is on schedule to open next summer while the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, Allegiant Stadium will open this summer.
Additionally, The Sphere located behind The Venetian has resumed construction after pausing while casinos were closed. The opening date is still TBD.
4. Free Las Vegas parking and deals
Las Vegas casinos are looking to make up for lost time by offering incentives to draw customers. Many Las Vegas casino operators are offering deals and discounts on hotel rooms. Some of these hotels are also removing resort fees. The casino operators on the Vegas Strip have also suspended paid self-parking fees for the time being.
The fees should return in the future. There are plenty of deals available for anyone looking to make the trip to Sin City now or in the future.
5. Re-imagined Vegas experiences
Las Vegas is different than it was when the year started. Social distancing is forcing some venues inside of casinos to re-imagine the experience they provide. Dayclubs and nightclubs are reopening as more mellow experiences or as overflow pools supplementary to hotel pools. (Some are only booking cabanas.) Dayclubs have a more relaxed vibe and even serve brunch poolside. Nightclubs are becoming upscale lounges instead of places to dance.
Buffets are no longer self-serve by guests. There will either be a person to hand guests food or bring it directly to the table. This is a new relaxing Las Vegas.
6. More electronic table games
Las Vegas casinos have been adding electronic table games over the past few years. These machines offer blackjack, craps, roulette and other games on a variety of platforms. The smaller installations seat up to six people and don’t have a dealer. The large stadium gaming areas have fewer dealers and can be scaled for 10 people to 100 people.
Many casinos are offering electronic table games for the first time. Station Casinos is the latest casino operator to add multiple electronic gaming options.
7. New technology
Electronic table games aren’t the only new technology in Las Vegas casinos. Casino operators continue to streamline processes previously performed with humans. Last year MGM Resorts started using more automation or robots to fulfill tasks like making mixed drinks.
Both Caesars and MGM Resorts now offer touchless hotel check-in and mobile room keys and concierge to help reduce the amount of human contact a guest has to make with employees. Almost every sportsbook in Las Vegas has kiosks to place wagers without human contact. Lastly, Sahara is offering a unique mobile gaming table reservation system for groups.
8. The NFL is taking over Las Vegas
Construction on Allegiant Stadium is on pace to be completed before the NFL season. The Las Vegas Raiders’ new home will host all of the team’s games this year.
The new football stadium will also be home to the 2021 Pro Bowl game. The NFL Draft in Las Vegas has been rescheduled for 2022 since it was canceled earlier this year. There’s even a new Raiders merch store at the Miracle Mile Shops (Planet Hollywood) for anyone that needs to have some Las Vegas NFL merch.
9. Pausing The Drew
Construction on The Drew has stopped once again. Work on the big blue building (formerly The Fontainebleau) near The Sahara on the Vegas Strip has stalled. It will remain an eyesore for the foreseeable future. Things have gotten so bad that recently laid-off employees are suing the owner of the property.
10. Amazing service continues
The people visiting Las Vegas aren’t the only people excited about going to casinos once again. The employees that were unemployed while the businesses were closed are happy to be at work in one of the world’s most glamorous entertainment destinations. The service all around Las Vegas is better than its been for years. It’s sort of a throwback to the best days of Las Vegas.
Even though all casino employees are wearing masks their attitudes are great and the smiles are still visible.