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Las Vegas casinos are preparing to roll

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Free parking, but no valet service. Bartenders, blackjack sellers and waitresses wearing masks. Hand sanitizer anywhere.

Yes, roll the dice, the cards will be dealt and the slot machines will be pointed. But poker rooms? Closed.

Tourists returning to Las Vegas will see changes since gambling stopped in mid-March for the first time ever to ensure the spread of coronavirus.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, said Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West̵

7;s mental tank at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Las Vegas cannot be known as a place where people go and get sick,” he said.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has set a tentative June 4 date for the reopening of casinos. The Democratic governor said in a statement Friday that Nevada continues to see reduced cases of coronavirus and COVID-19 hospitalizations when certain restrictions began to come to light almost two weeks ago.

Sisolak’s office said he plans to hold a news conference on Tuesday to offer more details about the next phase of reopening, in the belief that positive trends will continue through the end of the Day. of the Memorial. Nevada gambling regulators are also planning to meet Tuesday and are considering reopening plans submitted from casinos, which need to be approved at least seven days before reopening.

“We all know what we’ve been through for the last 10 weeks. There’s nothing fun,” said Bill Hornbuckle, acting chief executive and president of MGM Resorts International’s casino giant. “The simple idea is that I can get out, go to a resort, lay in a pool, enjoy a nice dinner, sit at a blackjack table. Something to say for all of that.”

Many properties are aiming for an early June restart in the gambling mecca that is closed almost overnight amid a hot streak – three consecutive $ 1 billion a month in national casino wins. The city draws more than 40 million annual visitors.

When given the green light, marquees and managers are welcome to welcome people back to this 24/7 town built for the crowd, chaos and excess. But not all resort amenities are open. Nightclubs, dayclubs, buffets and large venues will remain closed. The show at Cirque du Soleil will remain dark, at least for now.

Signs everywhere will remind guests of the new rules: Wash your hands; keep distance from others; limit your ride to the elevator in your sanitized room to just four people.

“You get a lot of social attention,” said Sean McBurney, general manager at Caesars Palace. “In the event of crowding, it is the responsibility of every employee to ensure that there is a social trip.”

Dice will be disinfected between shooters, chips that are clean and card decks are frequently changed. In some guests guests will be encouraged to use cellphones for check-in, as room keys, and to read restaurant menus.

Owners of Wynn Resorts and The Venetian, owned by Las Vegas Sands, are planning to use thermal imaging cameras at every entrance to cover people with fevers. Smaller operators in Las Vegas and Reno will offer hand-sanitizer.

“A gondola pilot wearing a face mask will ride to steer the vessel,” said a Venetian protocol. “The gondoliers placed next to the canal will prepare passengers from a suitable distance.”

The new state Board Game Regulations require surfaces that cannot be disinfected according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and “increased attention” to high-touch hotel items such as television remote controls and light switches.

Guests can get free masks at large resorts, but will not be forced to use them. For blackjack traders, bellhops, reservation clerks, security guards, housekeepers and waiters, masks are mandatory.

“That’s the most visual thing. Every employee needs to wear a mask,” McBurney said.

His footsteps were uttered walking along with a reporter of past marble statues in the lobby to a gilded empty casino for the first time since it opened in 1966. A slot machine shouted the “Wheel of Fortune! ” in the void. The seats on both sides of the game are removed.

“Visually, you’ll still see a lot of color and activity, but you won’t be able to play every machine,” McBurney said.

At the nearby Bellagio, Hornbuckle showed off new hand-washing stations installed where banks of slot machines were removed. His company lost about $ 10 million a day during the shutdown, he said.

Other rules: only four players in roulette, six in craps. Plastic partitions separate dealers from players and players from each other at the Bellagio, three at each table.

MGM Resorts plans to open only two of its 10 Strip properties initially: Bellagio and New York-New York.

Hornbuckle has promised Bellagio’s iconic dance fountains will resume once a governor sets. However, only 1,200 of the 4,000 hotel rooms are rented and casinos are limited to 50% of capacity.

“You will see less people, through control and by design,” he said.

Caesars Entertainment plans to open Caesars Palace and Flamingo Las Vegas at first, followed by Harrah’s Las Vegas and the casino floor of the LINQ hotel-casino.

Lang called it unlikely that large crowds would return quickly, and resort operators said that deep pockets “would probably allow for a bargain moment” until the business improved. “First would be Las Vegas residents. Then people would come here by car from California. Then domestic air flights. Then international,” the researcher predicted.

McBurney said that of the nearly 4,000 rooms at Caesars Palace, he expects only one of the six towers to be occupied. “When people know there is an opening date … demand will rise,” he said. “How much? I can’t even imagine.”

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