- More Las Vegas casinos have been approved to increase gaming floor capacity to 100%.
- All Las Vegas area casinos can now operate at 80% capacity following relaxation of the COVID-19 guidelines on May 1.
- Casinos can be approved for 100% capacity for above average success in vaccinating their employees.
When Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced modifications to the state’s COVID-19 mitigation guidelines to go into effect on May 1 casinos were relieved that they would be allowed to operate at 80% of capacity. At the same time, the Nevada Gaming Control Board indicated that gaming operators could receive special permission to move to 100%. Licencees would have to submit health and safety plans for approval but the key component was achieving a high level of employee vaccination. The operative terms in the NGC’s decree were ‘measurable and material steps to vaccinate its workforce’. and ‘detailed commitment to vaccinate its workforce including goals and timelines’.
Almost immediately, two Las Vegas properties received special designation by the Nevada gaming regulators to go to 100%. Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) had been a leader in employee vaccination efforts for months and that comittment had paid off in the form of 88% vaccination rate among employees. Less than 24 hours later, the Nevada Gaming Commission approved a request from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas which had also been extremely effective in their vaccination efforts among empoyees hitting an 80% rate. In addition to the boost to 100% capacity the properties were allowed to remove their plexiglass dividers from slot machines and table games. Facemasks, however, are still required.
Since then, a number of other Southern Nevada casino operators have received the same form of permission from the NGC. Earlier today, the Las Vegas Review-Journal gave a rundown of which properties could now operate at 100% capacity. On Monday, May 10 Golden Entertainment (NASDAQ: GDEN) announced that they had received permission to operate The Strat at 100% capacity effective immediately. The Strat’s vice president and general manager, Stephen Thayer commented:
“Our team worked diligently to meet the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s requirements, which not only advance us to the next step in safely reopening Las Vegas, but also enhance our guest experience. We will continue to support additional measures, including mask mandates, to provide a safe and healthy environment for team members and guests.”
Earlier today, MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM) gave the word that they would be able to go to 100% at their Las Vegas properties (Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur). CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a statement to the LVRJ:
“This is yet another major milestone in Las Vegas’ incredible recovery and a testament to the importance of vaccination in the effort to full reopen our community. We will be working to vaccinate as many people as possible and remain vigilant with health and safety protocols designed to protect our employees, guests and community.”
They were joined in the ‘100% club’ by Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) who will go to full capacity at their nine Southern Nevada properties (Bally’s, Caesars Palace, The Cromwell, Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Linq, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and Rio) effective immediately. Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg had this statement commending his employees’ effort:
“The expansion to full capacity and the elimination of social distancing on our casino floors in Las Vegas is a result of our Team Members’ commitment to doing their part to put us all on the road to recover. While this shift is encouraging, we understand that the battle is not yet won, and it is through a continued commitment to health and safety that Las Vegas can most quickly rebound.”
The leader in the locals casino market is also moving to 100% effective Wednesday–that’s when Station Casinos gave the news that they were given approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission after vaccinating ‘the majority’ of their employees:
Station Casinos is pleased to announce that it has received approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board to increase its gaming floor occupancy to 100 percent at all of its properties, including Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Boulder Station, Sunset Station and Santa Fe Station, effective immediately.
Since early April, to assist its Team Members, their families, the local community and the gaming industry, Station Casinos, at its own expense, opened vaccination clinics across all properties. As a result, the Company has been able to vaccinate an overwhelming majority of its Team Members.
Station Casinos’ publicly traded corporate parent is Red Rock Resorts (NASDAQ: RRR).
Rounding out the properties approved to operate at 100% capacity is the privately owned off-strip Silverton Casino.
At the time of publication, James Murphy has a long position WYNN, MGM, CZR, GDN AND RRR.