Casinos along the fabulous Las Vegas Strip may soon reopen — that’s all up to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. When they do, visitors can expect some wholesale changes to the entire gambling and tourist experience, and they won’t be all bad.
Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the closure of all Nevada casinos more than two months ago. Last week, he began permitting casino restaurants to reopen, but gaming, shows, and clubs are still shut down.
Earlier this month, the NGCB laid out its health safety guidelines for casinos to follow upon reopening. Poker rooms, for example, must limit tables to four-handed play. There are 14 cardrooms on the Las Vegas Strip, more than you’ll find in any other city in the US.
We don’t know how many of those poker rooms will soon reopen, but we do know the game of poker in Sin City is going to change drastically, one way or the other. Some rooms won’t reopen due to the NGCB’s stringent restrictions, or poker players will have to get used to playing four-handed.
Poker players won’t be the only ones experiencing drastic changes to their gambling experience, however.
Las Vegas Strip Changes: The Good News
While the live poker scene on the Las Vegas Strip is going to suffer for the foreseeable future, COVID-19 will have at least a couple positive impacts on the gambling experience.
MGM Resorts recently announced it will eliminate parking fees, meaning we’ll all have an extra $20 to blow on penny slots or over-priced drinks. Caesars is also rumored to be considering removing parking fees at its six Las Vegas Strip properties. Ditto for Cosmopolitan.
Improved cleanliness at the casinos is another positive impact of the global health pandemic. Each major casino brand in Las Vegas has released its planned health safety guidelines to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Here’s what you should expect at many of the mega-resorts on the Strip:
- Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the casinos
- Non-invasive temperature checks prior to entering the casinos
- Casino chips regularly cleaned and sanitized
- Slot machines cleaned and sanitized more frequently
- Dealers wearing face masks
Changes You Might Not Like
When the Las Vegas Strip reopens (not including the mini-reopening of certain restaurants), you’ll have a limited selection of casinos to visit. And also a limited poker room selection, if any card rooms bother reopening. MGM Resorts and its 13 Vegas properties, along with Wynn-Encore, has already announced the poker rooms won’t be in operation right away.
MGM Resorts recently released a “seven-point safety plan” for reopening, which includes social distancing guidelines. That includes preventing guests from standing beside or behind players. So, if you’re playing blackjack and have a friend with you who isn’t playing, they may not be allowed to sit behind you while watching you play.
Certain table games will have plexiglass shields in place to protect the dealers. Some gamblers on social media aren’t too thrilled about this, as they see it as removing the social aspect of gambling. But MGM and other Las Vegas Strip casinos are attempting to enforce social distancing guidelines.
Another major change to the gambling experience will be the 50% capacity limit each casino must adhere to. So, for the time being, the days of cramming thousands of people into these mega-resorts on a Friday night are over. Table games will also no longer be jam-packed, as the gaming board is limiting occupancy. Poker tables will seat a maximum of four players, while blackjack will be limited to three-handed play. Six players will fill a craps table, and four people will be allowed at a roulette table.
The slot machine-playing experience will also differ greatly compared to the old days. Most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have plans in place to force social distancing on slot players with machines spread out, and some turned off.
If you’d like to read specific guidelines in place at each Las Vegas Strip property, click the links below: