Nevada Grades Well on Social Distancing Report Card, Could Expedite Casinos Reopening

Posted on: March 26, 2020, 11:09h. 

Last updated on: March 26, 2020, 11:47h.

Nevada is doing its part when it comes to social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada casinos social distancing report
Las Vegas and Nevada are heeding advice to social distance. (Image: David Becker/Elko Daily Free Press)

A team of scientists and PhDs at Unacast – a location data research firm with offices in New York and Norway – compiled a social distancing report card using cell phone data to determine if people are truly reducing their movement and staying at home when possible. The results showed that Nevada is the No. 1 state in social distancing.

According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, social distancing is currently the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Unacast said in a release. “We created this interactive Scoreboard, updated daily, to empower organizations to measure and understand the efficacy of social distancing initiatives at the local level.”

On March 17, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all non-essential businesses – including casinos, the state’s economic engine – to shutter for the next 30 days. He also urged residents to stay home.

Nevadans are obliging, as human mobility has decreased by 55 percent since February 28 – resulting in an “A” grade from Unacast. Clark County, home to Las Vegas, is doing even better at a movement decrease of 66 percent.

The nationwide average is a travel decrease of 40 percent. Other states with shuttered casinos receiving “A” grades are New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and California.

Casinos Reopening

With every casino in Nevada closed for the foreseeable future, state lawmakers are bracing for a severe budget hit.

Nevada casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) over the last 12 months through February 2020 totaled $11.59 billion. The state taxes casino win at 6.75 percent, meaning it collected more than $782 million during the last year from gaming.

Paired with loss of tax revenue from hotel stays, entertainment, and endless other businesses that are closed, and Nevada-based research firm Applied Analysis says Nevada will miss out on over $1 billion in tax revenue should the statewide shutdown endure between 30 to 90 days.

“There’s almost no tax that is unaffected,” said analyst Jeremy Aguero. “The economic implications of this crisis appear unprecedented, far-reaching, and have the very real potential to cripple the Nevada economy.”

Critics Opine

Vital Vegas, the go-to Twitter account for all things Las Vegas, recently conducted a poll as to when casinos might reopen.

Let’s gamble! We’re putting the over/under for Las Vegas casinos reopening at May 1? What’s your guess?” Vital Vegas’ Scott Roeben tweeted. A total of 5,567 votes were cast, with 63.9 percent taking after May 1.

Several Las Vegas casinos are accepting hotel reservations for mid-April. Caesars, joined by MGM Resorts, the owner and operator of the most casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, both have April 17 as their first available date.

Roeben says Station Casinos is planning to reopen May 1. Boyd Gaming is telling customers it’s targeting May 1, too.