Vegas Is Back To Full Capacity, But Has NV Learned Its Lesson?

On Monday, June 1, Nevada casinos finally saw their 15-month coronavirus restrictions fully lifted.

That means Vegas gambling houses are all free to operate at full capacity.

While it may take some time before locals and tourists flock back to their favorite Vegas hotspots en masse, several venues are reporting record-breaking foot traffic upon reopening.

For example, the Red Rock Casino and Resort seems to be enjoying a veritable boom.

Joe Yalda, the venue’s VP of Guest Experience, describes the scene:

“Our pool has been jamming more than it’s ever been… Our theaters are back open with full capacity. Our restaurants are at 100% capacity. We even added Side Piece, our new pizza place over in our food court. … Our hotel is doing better than ever.”

Meanwhile, the South Point Casino, Hotel & Spa is performing just as well, and South Point GM Ryan Growny is thrilled about these positive developments.

“[We] have a 4,600-seat arena, two separate bowling centers, and our showrooms are back online. We had the ‘Righteous Brothers’ here last weekend. We had four sold-out shows. We hadn’t had a show in that room for a year. You have to have all of those components to have the Vegas experience.”

There’s also news that several venues have taken the downturn in activity during COVID to renovate and rejuvenate their properties.

One such destination is the El Cortez, which has been a staple in Downtown Las Vegas just one block from the Fremont Street Experience.

First opened in 1941, El Cortez celebrates its 80th birthday this year.

The famed locale is one of the original Vegas casino hotels, and the venue has famously never altered its “Spanish Colonial” themed façade.

That’s not changing.

However, during the lockdowns throughout 2020 and into 2021, the site did see renovations to its interior, with updated guest rooms, gaming spaces, and new restaurants.

The effort cost $25 million, and at the start of the COVID closures, there was plenty of doubt that the property’s planned revisions would be finished on time.

Per El Cortez GM Adam Weisberg:

“If you had told me what we would’ve had to put up with this past year, what we would have to adapt to the changes we had to make his operators, I would not have believed you.”

Of course, there’s one development – or, rather, one non-development – that continues to beggar belief:

Nevada remains utterly uninterested in legal online casino gambling.

On one level, that makes sense.

Vegas is a tourist destination first and foremost, and there’s validity to the state’s concerns that legal online iGaming – if allowed within NV borders – would reduce foot traffic to the businesses that represent the state’s economic bread and butter.

However, after losing some 97% of revenue year-over-year from 2019 to 2020, it’s unlikely that Sin City would face those kinds of downturns even on decades-long aggregate due to domestic iGaming.

Vegas casinos, more and more, are leaning on other “experiential” draws to court the next generation, and tourists won’t stop touring just because Nevada residents might prefer to gamble online.

After all, at the best international betting sites, those locals who wish to play legal online casino games already do, and after literal decades of such operations, the town is still growing.

Frankly, if the coronavirus fiasco hasn’t taught Vegas to embrace online gambling, nothing will.

Oh, well.

There’s always offshore.