Las Vegas Casinos One Day from Reopening, Sisolak Calls Out National Guard

Posted on: June 2, 2020, 10:23h. 

Last updated on: June 3, 2020, 09:14h.

Multiple Las Vegas gaming properties are scheduled to reopen Thursday, and visitors may see National Guard troops providing support for state and local law enforcement on city streets.

National Guard Supports Casino Reopenings
Peaceful protesters march for justice near the UNLV campus Tuesday night as a Las Vegas police officer follows in a patrol car. (Image: Chris Day/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“The Guard will not be on the front lines, making arrests or doing crowd control,” Gov. Steve Sisolak explained in a tweet on Tuesday. “Their mission is to act as support personnel & they will focus on protecting critical facilities, preserving public safety & allowing [individuals] … to exercise their rights to peacefully demonstrate.”

When asked about casino reopenings, a spokeswoman for Sisolak said in a Tuesday night statement to, “The [state’s] Phase 2 reopening directive allows gaming properties to open as early as 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, June 4 if licensees have submitted reopening plans and received [approval] from the Gaming Control Board.”

The casino resorts are empowered to set their own reopening times,” the statement from the governor’s office added. “The Governor and the Gaming Control Board have committed, from day one, that reopening would be conducted in a manner aimed at protecting the public health of Nevadans and visitors.”

Sisolak made the announcement about activating the National Guard for Southern Nevada just hours after a Las Vegas police officer was critically wounded late Monday outside of Circus Circus Hotel & Casino on the Strip. Another man, who was heavily armed, was fatally shot by police at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas during another confrontation.

On Tuesday, police arrested Edgar Samaniego, 20, in connection with the shooting of Metro police officer Shay Mikalonis, 29. Mikalonis was listed in critical condition at University Medical Center. He was on life support, authorities said.

Samaniego allegedly fired a handgun at the officer while he was trying to handcuff an unruly suspect involved in Monday night’s Black Lives Matter protest outside of Circus Circus. A short time later, Samaniego was taken into custody at a motel across the street from the shooting.

He was charged with a single count of attempted murder of a police officer and two counts of unlawful discharging of a firearm. On Tuesday, he was being held in Clark County Correctional Center.

Black Lives Matter-organized protests continued on Tuesday night near the UNLV campus.

Las Vegas, County Officials Consider Backpack Ban

To reduce the risk of violence at protests, on Wednesday, the Clark County Commission will take up a proposal to ban backpacks, large purses, luggage, and similar containers which can hold threatening items at demonstrations, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said. The proposed ban is like one used on New Year’s Eve and similar holidays. Las Vegas and North Las Vegas may consider approving a similar ordinance, the Review-Journal added.

On Tuesday, Las Vegas City Council member Stavros Anthony also urged that Las Vegas implement a curfew. He is a retired Metropolitan Police captain.

We need to open [the vacant] Jean prison [in Nevada] today as a holding facility for all violent rioters and ship them back to the state they came from,” Anthony added in a tweet. “Arrest all violent rioters immediately. No bail. Law and order.”

Several Metro police officers were injured during weekend protests in Las Vegas after getting struck by rocks and other objects. Also, several hundred protesters were arrested in Las Vegas this past weekend, with many of them apprehended after refusing to disperse when ordered to do so by officers.

Those arrested were part of the thousands of protesters, most of whom were peaceful, that assembled either on the Strip or in downtown, to recall the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

He died following a Minneapolis police officer placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, while three other Minneapolis officers stood by.

Floyd’s death was called an “absolute travesty” and justice is needed in the case, Stavros Anthony added in comments to the Review-Journal.

“I think the violent protests being watched on national television will affect the opening of our casinos. I think the curfew could,” he said.

Protests’ Impact on Casinos

How will casinos respond to the protests? Casinos will likely implement some stepped-up security precautions upon reopening, gaming experts told in recent days. But much depends on where casinos are located.

“The situation facing the casinos is much different both throughout the state and even in Southern Nevada,” Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law, told

Some casinos are well outside the areas that the protests are being held and do not face any threats,” Cabot explained. “The casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown are more vulnerable to persons who are disposed towards inflicting property damage or looting.”

Yet casinos on the Strip, Cabot noted, “have greater setbacks and spacing, so the likelihood for problems is far less.” Decisions on whether casinos should reopen “should be left to the individual casinos in consultation with the local police with a view to assure the safety of their guests and employees,” Cabot added.

On Tuesday, Wynn Resorts announced its two casinos on the Strip, the Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, will open at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Among the other Las Vegas casinos planning to reopen Thursday is the El Cortez Hotel and Casino. During unrest on Saturday night at the East Fremont Street venue, a window was broken, and graffiti was spray painted on exterior walls.

When a spokesman for Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was asked Tuesday by about the reopening of casinos given the violence, an email response said in part, “The tragic incidents from last night’s unrest are still under investigation, and any more detailed comment awaits until those facts are better known.”

Monday’s Fatal Shooting at Courthouse

Meanwhile, in the Las Vegas federal courthouse shooting Monday, Jorge Gomez, 25, who was at the protest earlier Monday night, was killed by police during a confrontation with officers, news reports said. Gomez was later found to possess two Glock pistols and a Glock with a carbine conversion kit, the Review-Journal reported.

Police ordered Gomez to leave the area outside of the courthouse, and officers first tried to fire non-lethal rounds at Gomez, the report adds. Officers later shot him several times.

Violence also took place in Reno over the weekend. On Saturday, Sisolak sent the National Guard to Reno after its City Hall was breached and other buildings were vandalized following peaceful protests.