Anticipation Builds as Las Vegas Casinos Await First Weekend Post-Reopening

Posted on: June 5, 2020, 10:53h. 

Last updated on: June 7, 2020, 06:14h.

Players and other visitors continued to return Friday to Las Vegas gaming properties, the second day of reopening, after more than two months of coronavirus-related closures.

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Michael Blaugrund, chief operating officer of NYSE Group. stands on the bell podium at the New York Stock Exchange Thursday as MGM Resorts remotely rings the opening bell to mark the reopening of three of MGM’s Las Vegas properties. (Image: NYSE)

Concerns about civil unrest on the streets of Las Vegas and possible visitor discomfort with health safeguards failed to materialize Thursday. That’s though some visitors chose not to wear face masks and avoided social distancing while waiting outside to get into venues.

An eager crowd waited to enter The D, early Thursday. Scott Roeben, founder of, was there, and later told Fox Business News, “There was a kind of pent-up exuberance. People were champing at the bit to get to their favorite machine.

“It was wild,” Roeben added about what he witnessed. “I took it as a really good sign people were ready to get back and have fun.”

There were multiple draws to lure crowds. For instance, Caesars Palace featured singer Wayne Newton in its reopening ceremony.

MGM Resorts reopened Bellagio, New York New York, and MGM Grand on Thursday.

This is an exciting day for the city and for our employees,” Callie Driehorst, MGM’s manager of corporate media relations, told “They have been anxiously awaiting the day when we could welcome our guests back to [the] property to enjoy Vegas experiences they’ve missed.”

To mark the day, MGM Resorts was given the honor Thursday morning to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. It was done remotely. Near the bell, MGM Resort’s reopening marketing theme was visible: Vegas Done Safely Is Still Vegas.

“We want our guests to know that we are preserving the experience they’ve come to know and love,” Driehorst added.

Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore also opened on Thursday.

“At 10 o’clock, when we reopened our doors, you could sense the excitement on the floor. The employees are so happy to be back at work,” Marilyn Spiegel, president of Wynn Las Vegas, said in a video statement.

Reopenings of other casinos will take place in part based on initial guest response. “The casinos are reopening more quickly than expected because of … demand,” Roeben said in the Fox interview.

Risk for Problem Gambling as Excitement Builds

But the excitement associated with reopening leads to risk for problem gambling. Over the past two months, there was an extended period of isolation, grief, economic loss, and other factors associated with people staying in their homes. These are risks for those prone to problem gambling, addiction specialists have warned.

“Anyone who has experienced any level of harm from their gambling should approach the reopening with caution,” Alan Feldman, a Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, who previously had an extensive career at MGM, told

While gambling can be an excellent way to reduce stress and increase socialization, it also, of course, has risk,” Feldman warned on Thursday. “And, if anyone has had any difficulty with managing that risk, now’s not the time to take chances.”

He advises gamblers to set a “clear budget and stick to it. Set a time limit and stick to it, too.

“It’s great to get out of our houses and start to feel some sense of normalcy again. But it’s also important that we watch out for each other and make certain that everyone is simply having a good time and not getting into any trouble,” Feldman said.

Peaceful Protests on the Strip Thursday

Concerns about violence in Las Vegas failed to materialize Thursday, as a peaceful Black Lives Matter-organized protest on the Strip was in sharp contrast to the violence seen earlier this week.

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Dilak Dernando places a bet Thursday at a roulette table at the Bellagio. Outside of the Bellagio Thursday night, peaceful protesters assembled. (Image: Reuters)

On Thursday night, an estimated 100 or fewer protesters marched from Tropicana Resort and Casino to Las Vegas Boulevard. They paused and knelt at the iconic Bellagio fountains, and yelled out, “I Can’t Breathe,” according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

That chant is in reference to the almost final words said by George Floyd as he begged for his life. A Minneapolis police officer placed a knee on the unarmed, black man’s neck for over eight minutes last week. Floyd died. The officer, as well as three other officers at the scene, were fired from the police department and later arrested.

In response, protests have taken place globally. Some are violent, and on Monday night Metropolitan police officer Shay Mikalonis was wounded outside of Circus Hotel & Casino. He remained in critical condition on Friday.