May 11, 2020

Las Vegas Has a Plan to Reopen Its Casinos

[The Motley Fool]

It’s not going to be business as usual for Caesar’s, Wynn, or MGM, but at least there are signs of light at the end of the tunnel.

Las Vegas has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. The city relies on tourism, conventions, and other big gatherings to drive its business model, and all of that has ground to a halt.

That has not been good for Caesar’s (NASDAQ:CZR), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), or other casino operators. Hotels and casinos in Las Vegas are closed. That basically turns off all revenue for these companies (though a few may house restaurants that are open to serve locals via delivery and takeout, and there are some people likely booking future travel).

Now, however, while no date has been set, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has adopted rules for what opening casinos will look like, Poker News Daily reported.An empty row of slot machines.


What will reopened casinos look like?

When Caesar’s, Wynn, MGM, and the other casino operators can reopen their Las Vegas casinos, they will have to operate at half capacity. That’s not likely to be a problem, as few people are currently traveling and that’s unlikely to change at least through the summer.

Casinos will also have to stick to rules about how many players can play at the same time at various table games. The adopted rules are:

  • Three players per blackjack table
  • Four players per roulette table
  • Four players per poker table
  • Six players per craps table

That creates a problem when it comes to poker, as four-handed games are generally not profitable for players or the casino, according to poker player Richard Gilliam, who spoke during the meeting.

“I understand the need for reducing the number of players as a safety measure, but these regulations are meant to strike a balance between visitor safety and…economic viability,” Gilliam said.

Casinos have to submit a plan to the NGCB at least seven days before their opening, according to the final published guidelines. Before opening, casino hotels have to clean and disinfect all surfaces according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Employees must also be trained on CDC disinfecting procedures, and “how to prevent the spread of infectious disease, including, without limitation, social distancing, handwashing, and not spreading germs at work.”

Once the plans are approved, casinos must also:

  • Post signs throughout the property on proper hygiene, including proper handwashing, how to cover coughs and sneezes, and to avoid touching their face;
  • Instruct workers to stay home if they are sick;
  • Report on co-workers showing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Conduct additional cleaning and disinfecting throughout the day;
  • Require employees to wash their hands; and
  • Provide personal protective equipment (masks and gloves) for workers.

The casino operators also have to ensure social distancing at slot machines and other games (like video poker). That could involve signage, removing some seats, rearranging machines, or even turning some off.

Hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes will also have to offered to players at table games and around the property. Restaurants can open as long as social distancing is in place, as can bars — but all nightclubs and day clubs will remain closed.

Hotels and other public spaces will also have to meet social distancing requirements. That includes meeting and conventions spaces, as well as pools, where chairs will have to be arranged to allow for social distancing.

A very different Vegas

It’s very likely that casinos will struggle to make money under these conditions, but the big three will certainly move to reopen. These guidelines are very similar to the ones being used in Macau, where limited openings have already happened.

By Daniel B. Kline

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