Commercial Gaming

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak Says Las Vegas Future No ‘Matter of Luck,’ Touts Personal Responsibility

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) knows Las Vegas desperately needs conventions as soon as safely possible. But the first-term governor said this week that allowing large-scale meetings to resume isn’t entirely within his control.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, seen here, says if the federal government sends the state a COVID-19 vaccine, his administration will first seek an independent review of its efficacy. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Speaking during a press conference Monday in Carson City, Sisolak said all Nevadans are responsible for the state’s near-term ability to return to some sense of normal.

“Right now, I am working on a plan to increase capacity to 50 percent for conventions beginning January 1st, 2021, to get business back to the state, and get Nevadans back to work,” Sisolak explained.

Whether or not we get there is not a matter of luck. We’re not going to get here by flipping a coin,” the governor continued. “It’s a matter of each and every one of you. We need the public’s help and cooperation to make this possible.”

Under Sisolak’s current restrictions on conventions, indoor gatherings are limited to 250 people. Larger indoor venues can exceed that number, but only if they submit their hosting plans to state and local regulators. No venue can have more than 10 percent of its fire code capacity.

Conventions are a critical component of the Las Vegas gaming industry. Casino resorts on the Strip derive about two-thirds of their revenue from nongaming, and conventions play a substantial role in that segment.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority says there has been no convention attendance in more than five months.

Timing Critical for Vegas Economy

Las Vegas conventions and exhibitions routinely attract tens of thousands of visitors each week to Southern Nevada. The crowded gatherings take months of planning, prompting Sisolak to urge residents to act now in order to save future events from being postponed or canceled.

“A lot of these conventions plan months in advance, and I don’t want to lose the whole first quarter and second quarter of next year,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak’s comments come as Nevada is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The governor said the “alarming trend” should be plenty of reason for residents to follow coronavirus safety restrictions.

“If, like me, you want to open more and not less, if you want our kids back in school. If you want people to return to their jobs, this is what it takes,” Sisolak stated, pointing to his mask. “This is the key.”

Vaccine Validity

Sisolak announced today that he is joining the Western States Pact governors to independently review any COVID-19 vaccine put forth by the US Food and Drug Administration. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) also make up the pact.

When the time comes, Nevadans will be able to feel confident in the safety of the vaccine, knowing that an independent review by experts across the West gave it their seal of approval,” Sisolak asserted.

During last week’s debate, President Donald Trump said a coronavirus vaccine could be ready “within weeks.” He added that the military will handle distributing the vaccine.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email:

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Devin O'Connor