Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak relaxed coronavirus-induced restrictions on his state’s casinos Monday, while laying out a time frame for further reductions.
Sisolak announced that starting Feb. 15, casinos would be allowed to operate at 35 percent capacity, a 10 percent increase from what the properties were previously allowed. That number will jump to 50 percent March 15.
At the start of May, casinos will be permitted to operate at full capacity, at which point nightclubs and day clubs will be allowed to reopen.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S., the Las Vegas economy has suffered greatly. Las Vegas Strip casinos, which rely heavily on tourism, saw a 43.3 percent decline in gaming revenue throughout 2020 after it finished the year with a more than 50 percent decline in December.
Thousands of jobs were lost and the Las Vegas unemployment rate currently sits at 34 percent. As travelers regain confidence and the city begins to re-establish itself as a global tourist destination as opposed to a regional gaming hub, these numbers should rebound.
According to a report from Yahoo! Finance, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle believes that this rebound will begin in March as the government begins a serious decline in restrictions.
“March may hopefully begin to feel like October if we’re lucky,” said Hornbuckle in an earnings call. “I’m hoping by the end of spring, as we go into June, we’ll see yet another significant rollback as we get ready for events.”
Last March, Sisolak, like most other governors around the country, shuttered his state’s brick-and-mortar casino market. He allowed it to reopen nearly three months later in early June with heavy restrictions in place.
Many properties opted to stay closed, but over the course of several months, the entire Las Vegas Strip reopened for business. Several properties, however, made changes to their hotel operations. Last December, The Palazzo announced it was no longer taking hotel reservations, while Planet Hollywood, Mandalay Bay, Mirage and Park MGM all halted midweek hotel operations. Encore casino suspended midweek operations for both its hotel and casino.