Las Vegas still hasn’t completely returned to the Sin City that so many people have come to love over the years. Having said that, it’s slowly coming back. One step forward for Nevada was when all bars in the state were added to the list of what’s open. And thanks to an increase in capacity limits, shows are starting to return.
Construction on new casinos is continuing. Circa Resort & Casino is on schedule to open its casino in downtown Las Vegas before the end of the month.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is planning to open on January 15, 2021. Mohegan Sun will operate the casino and is expected to be approved for a gaming license soon. The company will bring its Momentum Rewards program to Las Vegas for the first time. It’s possible that 2021 will see even more new casino brands as properties are bought and sold.
Looking even further ahead, Las Vegas will be home to major college sports championships for the first time in more than three decades beginning in 2023. A new transportation system could be available to visitors by then too.
Las Vegas’ recovery is going to be long, but the city perseveres. Here are five things to keep your eyes on that will impact Las Vegas today and for years to come.
#1 Shows are back!
Shows are back in Las Vegas. Well, not all shows, but this is a start. The return of entertainment in Las Vegas casinos started at the Cosmopolitan with Rose.Rabbit.Lie and Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails.
Caesars recently announced that some smaller-scale shows are returning to three of its properties. The highlight of the returning shows is Absinthe. The show will have socially distanced seating in the tent right outside of Caesars Palace.
Some may know Piff the Magic Dragon from his brief stint on America’s Got Talent. His new Las Vegas show will return to the Flamingo on Oct. 29 after a brief hiatus. Lastly, Harrah’s Las Vegas is welcoming the ladies of X Country back to the property for some risque adults-only entertainment.
One more Caesars-related note: Parking fees are returning for some visitors. Hotel guests, Platinum-level Caesars Rewards members and locals may still self-park for free. All other visitors will have to pay. More information can be found here.
MGM Resorts also announced that some shows, like Carrot Top and David Copperfield, will resume in November. The shows will reopen with a capacity of 250 people. This is just the beginning of the return of entertainment. More small show reopening announcements should come soon. Larger performances should follow.
#2 Bally’s sold (sort of)
Caesars Entertainment recently sold its Bally’s casino in Atlantic City to Twin River Holdings for $25 million. The Bally’s brand name was also part of this deal. Twin River paid another $20 million just for the rights to the Bally’s name.
Bally’s Las Vegas was not a part of this deal. Caesars still owns the Las Vegas property and may keep it as long as it owns the casino.
The latter point is key. Bally’s Las Vegas has been rumored to be available to purchase for a while. Even before the merger with Eldorado Resorts was completed earlier this year, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said the company would sell one of its Vegas Strip properties.
Planet Hollywood is another Caesars Las Vegas property that could be sold. Hard Rock International could be the company that buys one of the two properties. This is something to keep an eye on, as Reeg has previously said he’d like to complete a deal within a year of the merger.
#3 Las Vegas is further becoming a sports town
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recently announced that Las Vegas will host nine championship events. The highlight of this announcement is that the city will host a 2023 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament regional round.
This will be the first time Las Vegas has hosted an NCAA championship event since the women’s college basketball regional at UNLV in 1991. Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, said:
“While the NCAA seeks federal legislation to better regulate sports wagering, particularly to safeguard college sports competitions, we are excited to bring our national championships to Las Vegas.”
The first weekend of March Madness is always a busy time of the year in Las Vegas, with 32 games taking place during the first two days. Now there will be another 16 games taking place on that Saturday and Sunday.
The 48 games during the first weekend of March Madness will bring massive crowds to Las Vegas to watch and wager. The regional round will include the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games. The vibe in Las Vegas might be different, with more friends, family and fans than sports bettors.
This could be a good thing, as a different crowd will mean more people visiting Las Vegas for the NCAA basketball tournament. College hockey will also bring a different crowd to Las Vegas.
T-Mobile Arena will host the Frozen Four of the college hockey tournament in 2026. Las Vegas will also host the following college championship events:
- 2023 Division I men’s golf regional: Bear’s Best
- 2023 NCAA women’s bowling championship: South Point
- 2024 Division I women’s golf regional: Spanish Trail
- The 2024 Division III men’s golf championship: Boulder Creek Golf Club and The Legacy
- 2024 Division III men’s and women’s soccer championship: UNLV
- 2025 Division II women’s golf championship: Boulder Creek Golf Club
- 2026 men’s championships in golf: Boulder Creek Golf Club
Overall, the NCAA awarded a variety of events to more than 450 host sites around the country.
#4 A new way to get around Las Vegas
Elon Musk and his Boring Company are currently building a people mover for the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Work on the Convention Center Loop tunnel system should be complete before the year is over. Thanks to Musk, by the time conventions return to Las Vegas, visitors will be able to move from one end of the center to the other via Tesla cars in just a couple of minutes.
A few months ago, Musk shared a rendering on his Twitter account:
Moving people around a massive convention center is just the beginning for Musk. His company is already looking to expand this new underground transportation system throughout Las Vegas. In fact, Resorts World (opening summer 2021) has already been approved to connect with the tunnel system.
The “Vegas Loop” tunnel system is being planned to connect Allegiant Stadium on the south end of the Strip to downtown, which is north of the Strip. This is all pending approval, but the future of traveling around Las Vegas may be very different in a couple of years.
#5 Pandemic aid may be on the way
Las Vegas has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than many casino markets. Many shows are still closed. While smaller shows are beginning to reopen, large-production shows, such as those by Cirque du Soleil, are still on hold.
Las Vegas hasn’t seen a convention since March. While most casinos are open again, some have reduced hours due to lack of demand.
Last week, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) shared bipartisan legislation that would help many Las Vegas businesses. If approved, the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2020 would help the convention, trade show, entertainment, travel and hospitality industries as well as their employees.
The goal of this legislation is to stimulate the economy by creating new recovery incentives for the hospitality and trade show industries. The plan would also improve the employee retention tax credit, keeping more people employed.
The major feature of this act would create a tax credit for the cost of attending or hosting a convention, meeting or trade show between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2023. In theory, this would incentivize businesses to visit Las Vegas for a meeting or convention.
There would also be a tax credit for restaurants or food service businesses. This would cover any cost associated with reopening or increasing service at an establishment forced to close down or reduce operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes any renovation, remediation, testing or added labor cost needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Lastly, there would be a small tax credit for qualified travel expenses for many Americans. Aside from a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, this could give tourists a reason to visit Las Vegas from faraway locations.
The act needs to be approved before businesses and employees see any benefits. There is hope that working toward a greater good can help the recovery. Every little bit helps.