LAS VEGAS (FOX5)-- On Tuesday, Governor Steve Sisolak is set to discuss Phase Two of reopening Nevada. If safety trends continue, June 4th will be the target date to reopen the gaming industry.
“It was very different seeing the casinos not open. I think a lot of people are definitely looking to get back inside of them,” David Schwartz said. Schwartz is a gaming historian at UNLV.
He was one of many who visited an empty Las Vegas Strip on Memorial Day.
“I think Las Vegas just has to be prepared to accommodate the customers, sensitive to what they want,” he said.
With a June 4th target date, one-by-one, Strip properties have rolled out their safety plans.
“I think they’re all going to be pretty similar,” Schwartz said. “They’re all going to find one best practice and coalesce around that.”
Will it be crowded with casinos reopen? Schwartz said that’s hard to tell. Even valley casinos can’t predict that.
“It is so dependent on travelers,” he said.
Casinos in other cities like Phoenix and San Diego saw lines out the door upon reopening. Schwartz said that doesn’t necessarily mean that will happen here. Las Vegas, particularly the Strip, relies heavily on travelers from around the world.
“I don’t think the regional casinos across the country are a good benchmark of what we could see,” he said.
Strip casinos have already announced what will be in place: disinfected dice, temperature checks and physical barriers.
What visitors won’t see upon their return: pools, day clubs, night clubs, buffets and daily housekeeping.
“Certainly one of the things we’ve seen from the Strip that’s gone away for now at least is paid parking,” Schwartz said.
The change is a big plus for locals and potentially a big draw for visitors.
“That seems to be a good sign and a lot of people really like that so I think now more than ever they need to listen to the customers,” he said.
What about valley casinos off the Strip? “You could say well the bigger hotels have more space so they can have more people in, on the other hand the smaller ones have a smaller footprint so they might be less costly to maintain,” Schwartz said. “It’s really hard to say who is going to have the benefit coming out of this.”
Either way, he said it’s a gamble.
“I think what I’ll be watching are not just the numbers the first day back but looking deeper and seeing are customer behaviors changing?” he said. “Are we going to have to adjust as a city and as a hospitality industry to cater to people in the post pandemic-era?”
Schwartz believes the changes that come next will be part of a new norm.
“If we think of normal as what it was in February, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “I think we’re going to adjust and next year, it will be what we’re used to.”
The Nevada Gaming Board will also meet on Tuesday. Properties are required to submit their plans to the board for approval seven days before reopening.