Staying Away: Las Vegas Is Open Again, but Visitor Numbers Are Down
Overall visitor numbers to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, fell by 70% in June compared to last year’s figure. According to a report from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), just over one million people visited the world’s most renowned gambling town throughout the month.
That may not sound bad at first, but compare it with last year’s figure of 3.2 million to see the real story.
Casinos were given the green light to open up again on June 4th after shutting up shop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Steve Sisolak issued a closing order on March 27th.
So far, around 160,000 Americans have died after contracting the respiratory disease.
Nevada, though, was largely spared the worst impacts of the pandemic. One county, Esmeralda County, is one of only 30 counties in the whole of the USA with zero confirmed coronavirus cases.
However, Clark County, where Las Vegas is situated, has been the hardest-hit part of Nevada—811 people have died there, accounting for 85% of the state’s total.
Still, casinos are adamant they can reopen safely. With a whole array of new safety measures in place, gamblers have been slowly returning to Sin City, just like casinos across the country.
But not fast enough.
The major casinos have all recently put out offers and incentives to entice customers back. These have included an unprecedented “Buy One Get One Free” offer on hotel rooms from Wynn Resorts, as well three different work-from-home visitor discount packages, jointly entitled “Viva Las Office.”
The smallest package, a three-day booking, includes a personal concierge who will be in charge of booking experiences and outings and arranging them around visitors’ work schedules. Some packages even feature chartered private jet flights from airports in Washington State, Arizona, California, and Texas.
Las Vegas’ Gaming Control Board has also been busy ensuring casino and gambling venues adhere to new safety protocols. Last month, it announced it had conducted over 10,000 inspections, resulting in over 150 charges against non-compliant venues.
Although visitor numbers are well down on last year, at this point, anything is better than the near-zero percent venues saw in April and March.
Regardless of what the casinos do, business will continue to be down this year.
That’s because conferences and expos, key drivers of visitors to the city and the casinos, are staying completely away from physical venues because of the pandemic.
Conventions and similar events can account for up to 600,000 visitors a month during the peak season of a good year from July to August. That number was bang on zero this year.
But does Las Vegas really want to see 3 million visitors a month returning so soon? Just last month, Clark County was placed on the COVID-19 White House Task Force’s danger list as one of the 100 fastest-rising coronavirus hotspots in the US.
Research has suggested that Nevada residents, along with Arizonians, also take up the top two positions in a poll of the least coronavirus measure-compliant states.
Is the risk worth the reward? If you’re a casino or hotel worker, owner, or gambler—the answer might be yes for you.
Nevada casinos don’t have the luxury of an online alternative like some other gambling cities, such as Atlantic City. That fact further heightens the economic imperative to remain open.
However, other residents who don’t work in the hospitality sector may not be so sure. Governor Steve Sisolak struck a cautionary tone in his statements last week.
“If Nevadans begin to relax their efforts and take this less seriously, this targeted approach will not work and will lead our state backward,” he said in a press release.
For the latest updates on this developing story, plus many more from around the gambling world, keep visiting online.casino/news.