Casinos doing better than expected, state officials told |

Casinos doing better than expected, state officials told

Dred Phillips plays roulette at the reopening of the Bellagio hotel and casino Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. Casinos in Nevada were allowed to reopen on Thursday for the first time after temporary closures as a precaution against the coronavirus.
AP Photo/John Locher

Members of the Economic Forum were told Wednesday that customers are returning to newly opened casinos in greater numbers than originally expected.

The resorts were allowed to open at 50 percent capacity effective June 4.

But Gaming Control Board Analyst Mike Lawton said the customers are primarily locals and Californians who can drive to Nevada’s gaming markets.

“There is not a lot of high end play,” he told the five member panel that projects state General Fund revenues for the governor and Legislature. “The big piece missing is that convention business, that corporate customer.”

Lawton said headcounts in some of those markets are down by less than 20 percent — primarily markets like Reno, Carson City and Lake Tahoe.

Lawton said approximately 90 percent of the more than 450 non-restricted gaming locations are open. The remaining resorts are planning to before the July 4 holiday several of them this Thursday.

Gaming Control Board Chairman Sandra Douglas Morgan told the forum members social distancing is required with customer capacity at 50 percent in restaurants, the gaming floor and at games such as blackjack tables.

But she said there is no 50 percent rule for resort hotel rooms.

Asked about the rules for loosening up the restrictions, the forum was told those decisions are up to the governor and health district officials across the state.

Lawton said an estimated 58,976 slot machines and 2,020 table and counter games are open along with 186 card games

As restrictions are modified, they told the forum occupancy, slot, table and card game capacity will change as well.

For the time being, however, night and day clubs along with other live entertainment venues are closed.