Sisolak’s casino closure may be unique in Nevada history |

Sisolak’s casino closure may be unique in Nevada history

A man walks along a usually busy Fremont Street after casinos were ordered to shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak Saturday, March 21, 2020, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/John Locher

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order this month that all casinos in the state shut down because of the coronavirus raised the question whether casinos were all closed at any time in the past.

But after some research by Kile Porter, custodian of records for the Gaming Control Board, and Professor Michael Green at UNLV, Sisolak’s order appears to be the only time since gambling was legalized by the 1931 Legislature that all gambling houses were ordered closed.

Gov. Grant Sawyer issued a brief statement on Nov. 23, 1963 asking casinos to close for half a day on Nov. 25, the day of John F. Kennedy’s funeral. But it wasn’t an order.

The letter states: “The governor respectfully urges that all business houses and places of entertainment observe the occasion of the president’s funeral from 9 a.m. to noon.”

Green reported that, according to what appeared to be an Associated Press story, most but not all Nevada casinos closed for the Kennedy funeral.

He also reported that, during World War II, there were curfews and blackouts imposed by the Army that forced casinos to close in different parts of the state but not for any length of time.

However, neither could find conclusive evidence of any mandated closure of all Nevada casinos.