The roulette wheels, slot machines and money counters are set to spin at full tilt once again at Las Vegas casinos.
About two dozen gambling facilities in America’s casino capital can operate at 100% capacity again now that enough staff members at those casinos have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Less than two months ago, Nevada casinos were allowed to go back to 50% capacity after running at as low as 25% capacity at one point, with Gov. Steve Sisolak declaring those limits to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Nine MGM Resorts casinos, nine Caesars emporiums and several other Las Vegas casinos got permission from the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday to increase their capacity from 80%, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
"The expansion to full capacity and the elimination of social distancing on our casino floors in Las Vegas is a result of our team members' commitment to doing their part to put us all on the road to recovery,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said in a news release, adding that his company has offered on-site access to vaccines. “While this shift is encouraging, we understand that the battle is not yet won, and it is through a continued commitment to health and safety that Las Vegas can most quickly rebound."
A statewide lifting of capacity limits is on target for June 1 as long as vaccination rates continue to rise, the Review-Journal reported.
Also, on Thursday the Nevada Gaming Control Board released a statement saying that fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks inside Las Vegas casinos. The statement was issued on Thursday, the same day that the CDC stated that anyone who has been completely vaccinated against COVID-19 would not need to wear masks in most situations, outside of certain instances such as taking public transportation or being inside a medical facility.
The casinos in Nevada, as well as the rest of the country, started closing down last spring as measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus took hold. When they began to open back up last year, Nevada casinos had to adhere to social distancing guidelines, reduced capacity and other measures such as frequent cleaning and disinfecting in common areas.
In the wake of the virus-related shutdown, Las Vegas casinos were a natural testing ground for innovations such as putting safety shields between each seat at gaming tables to help keep germs contained and help reinforce social distancing rules.
In March 2021, Nevada casinos were allowed to expand back to 50% capacity. That move came just in time for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, one of the top sports betting events in America every year.
Gaming floors were empty or only half-full for the past year or so, but that doesn’t mean the business behind Las Vegas casinos has slowed. The Caesars-Eldorado merger in 2020 was just one of many business dealings in the past year to have an impact on the hugely important segment of Nevada’s economy.
Just in the past few weeks, Bally’s agreed to buy the Tropicana Las Vegas casino from Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., for more than $300 million, and the San Manuel Tribe of Mission Indians made a deal to purchase Palms Casinos Resort from Red Rock Resorts for $650 million.