Casinos around the country have been hammered by the COVID-19 crisis over the past year. And no state felt that industry’s pain as keenly as Nevada.
But now, almost exactly 12 months after the coronavirus pandemic forced casinos to close around the country, including more than 200 in Nevada, the casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere in the Silver State can operate at 50% again.
And it’s coming just in time for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, one of America’s top sports betting events.
Starting Monday, casinos in the state were allowed to increase capacity from 35% to 50% after an order from Gov. Steve Sisolak, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
One month earlier, Sisolak approved of increasing capacity limits from 25% to 35% at casinos, restaurants and other businesses.
According to the American Gaming Association, of the nation’s nearly 1,000 casinos, more than 20% are in Nevada.
Last year, Nevada casinos were closed in mid March and stayed shuttered until June 4 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
On May 1, 2020, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued new guidelines for all casinos in the state including reduced capacity, social distancing measures, new cleaning procedures and more.
Casinos in Nevada suffered a huge financial hit not only from casinos being closed or running at a small fraction of capacity, but because the state’s mobile sports betting options are limited. Customers must sign up in person at a casino to use online sports betting apps.
In 2020, some sportsbooks offered drive-through mobile betting in an attempt to give people a way to bet without having to enter brick-and-mortar casinos.
Looking at the larger picture, the total gaming win at Nevada casinos was $7.873 billion in 2020, nearly 35% lower than the $12.032 billion in 2019.