Las Vegas Casinos Reopen Today After 78 Days: New Precautions, Security in Place
Posted on: June 4, 2020, 08:12h.
Last updated on: June 4, 2020, 11:03h.
Eager players were lined up outside several Las Vegas gaming properties Wednesday night to be among the first at the tables or slots on Thursday morning. That’s when casinos gradually reopen following a 78-day shuttering because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A long queue was seen at The D, located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. One of the first to play blackjack there early Thursday was John Landin, Reuters reported.
It paid off for him. Landin was seen celebrating after a winning hand.
At Red Rock Casino Resort, Beth Toy attained four aces on a Double Super Times Pay video poker machine. She won over $4,000, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
As the month continues, players will be able to visit more casinos as they reopen their doors. Extensive precautions are in place to reduce the risk that COVID-19 will spread.
Capacity on gaming floors is capped at 50 percent or less. Large parts of casino complexes remain closed.
Many players may wear masks. Employees will wear masks and sometimes face shields.
Players are spread out. Cleaning and sanitization will take place frequently. Plexiglass divides players and workers.
Even with the new precautions, as well as the recent violence seen at many protests in Las Vegas, casino management hopes excitement and fun will resume in Las Vegas gambling.
“We are seeing a lot of enthusiasm and buzz surrounding our loyal visitors wanting to return, and we believe that we’ll see more arrive by car than airplane in the first few weeks of reopening,” Lori Nelson-Kraft, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, told Casino.org.
Casinos Lure Visitors
To attract visitors who drive to the Strip, Caesars and MGM Resorts already eliminated parking fees. Casino executives are also hopeful that tourists and players will soon start to fly into Las Vegas.
The D’s owner, Derek Stevens, already captured headlines last month when he purchased 1,000 airline seats to give out tickets for free to get visitors back to his casinos.
But this past week had its challenges for Las Vegas. Several hundred protesters were arrested, often after failing to disperse or for hurling rocks at police officers.
Several businesses were looted or vandalized during protests. El Cortez Hotel and Casino, located in downtown Las Vegas on East Fremont Street, saw a broken window and graffiti scrawled on exterior walls during Saturday night protests. Still, it will reopen Thursday morning.
Among the downtown businesses broken into and looted was What Dress Code, a clothing boutique. Windows also were broken at Guama and Hatuey Cigar Lounge, but quick action by the Metropolitan police prevented looting, the owner told KVVU TV, a local station.
Some of the worst looting was at EZ Pawn, located on South Las Vegas Boulevard. At one point Saturday night, 50 or more looters went through the business.
Peaceful Protests Sometimes Turn Violent
While most Las Vegas protests associated with outrage over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis were peaceful, dozens of Metro police officers were injured when protesters, or those in their midst, turned violent. The most serious violence was to Metro Officer Shay Mikalonis, 29, who was shot outside of Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Monday night while he was apprehending an unruly protester.
Mikalonis remained in critical condition Thursday morning at University Medical Center after undergoing surgery to remove a bullet. His blood pressure was improving, too, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Residents held a vigil at the hospital Tuesday night to show support for the wounded officer. Community leaders have asked residents to pray for his recovery.
Edgar Samaniego, age 20, was arrested for the shooting, and he remained in Clark County Detention Center Thursday morning. During a court appearance on Wednesday, a justice of the peace ordered him held without bail on attempted murder and two other charges.
As a precaution, visitors to Las Vegas will likely see a strong police presence. Gov. Steve Sisolak called out the National Guard to southern Nevada to assist local police.
Law enforcement and prosecutors also are being proactive in their approach.
On Monday night, local and federal officers were on guard at the federal courthouse when a man, who was later found to be heavily armed, showed up.
He refused to leave despite multiple warnings. Police first responded with non-lethal shots. When those failed, he was fatally wounded during a confrontation.
Also, federal and local authorities Wednesday filed multiple charges against three men allegedly linked to a suspected extremist movement.
Officials claim the trio are associated with the “Boogaloo” movement — a term used by extremists to signify a coming civil war and/or collapse of society.
Each was charged with violations of federal and state law for conspiracy to cause destruction during protests in Las Vegas, and possession of a Molotov cocktail.
On Wednesday, the Las Vegas City Council approved a temporary ban on backpacks and other devices used to carry items at protests.
Wednesday night’s Black Lives Matter-organized protest in Las Vegas was largely peaceful.