© Caesars Palace Caesars Palace reopens
It’s a cause for celebration.
Las Vegas, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, re-opened for business this week in some select hotel-casinos, with more scheduled to unlock the doors this coming week.
No, it’s not back to all its glory – the coronavirus pandemic that shut the city down in mid-March has wreaked havoc and has no doubt left a lasting legacy of change all over the world.
But Las Vegas is open again, and here’s what you need to know.
A Crowded Scene?
Opening in 1906 at One Fremont Street, Golden Gate’s legacy spans the birth of Las Vegas, the Roaring ’20s, the Rat Pack era and now the 21st century. Official Site Read More The California Hotel & Casino.
Las Vegas is a busy town, and it’s not just the gambling scene. Tourists flood the city year-round and, surprise surprise, quite a few of them will never wager a cent. They come for the world’s most famous singers who perform in residencies, for the Broadway shows, for the amazing array of restaurants helmed by the country’s greatest chefs, for a big weekend boxing match, to hit the spectacular pool parties (uh, a young person’s thing, to be sure), and so much more.
Las Vegas hotels have reopened in phases since the gambling mecca began welcoming tourists again in June, but visitors planning a trip in early 2021 might find some of their favorites partially. Las Vegas casinos reopened in early June after they were forced to temporarily shutter in March because of the coronavirus. But the gaming floors have remained relatively deserted since the slots. Yes, Vegas is open. Las Vegas reopened on June 4th, 2020. Numerous changes have been made since reopening concerning policies and compliance for the casinos and hotels in Las Vegas due to COVID-19. Get ready for the time of your life at Circa Resort & Casino, opening October 28, 2020. We are now accepting room reservations for December 28th and beyond! Sunset At 5:02 PM.
But if crowds aren’t your thing, maybe now is the time to go.
That was to be expected, of course. The city has only been open for four days. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, ‘many table games and slot machines were not being used, there was little business at retail shops, and restaurants off the casino floor were not crowded. Bellagio had light foot traffic at one point and a calm casino floor. Four people waited to get inside the Louis Vuitton store as clerks controlled the number of shoppers, but most stores did not have many customers.’
As far as gambling, there are fewer seats to be had at table games – three players at blackjack, four at roulette and poker, and six at craps is the new normal for casinos.
And, according to USA Today, every other slot machine is generally turned off as casinos are temporarily limited to 50 percent capacity under new state gaming regulations.
Las Vegas is officially back. pic.twitter.com/EI3nXs2e5w
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 6, 2020
Vegas has become famous for its pool parties during the summer season and, well, it’s summer season in a city that routinely pushes 100 degrees.
The pools were packed on the first Saturday of the reopening. The Review-Journal reported the line to get into the pool at The Flamingo was 50-feet deep.
Line to get inside the pool at @[email protected]@VitalVegaspic.twitter.com/4PQdBuXMQ7
— Jacob Orth (@JacobsVegasLife) June 5, 2020
But here are the catches. One, pools all over Las Vegas are operating at 50 percent capacity to help maintain social distancing. Once the pools reach that capacity, the only way to get in is if somebody leaves.
More importantly, you better be a hotel guest. If you don’t have a room key-card, you can forget about using the pool for now.
Health And Safety Checks
As you enter casinos, temperature checks all over downtown Las Vegas.
Below is the Downtown Grand. They used hand held. Others had scanners/cameras. The D and Golden Gate had a wrist scanner. pic.twitter.com/02xrDv04hF
— Steve Cofield (@stevecofield) June 4, 2020
At the Downtown Grand and at other hotels, guests must undergo a temperature check. Anyone whose temperature exceeds 100.3 degrees are not allowed to enter, but will be given a chance to cool off and bring the temperature down.
At numerous hotels and casinos there are hand sanitizing stations.
Casino workers and dealers are wearing masks and gloves and face shields, and free face masks are being handed out at virtually every hotel and casino.
But face masks aren’t mandatory for visitors.
Las Vegas Review-Journal staff and experts who toured casinos on Thursday and Friday said only about half of visitors were seen wearing masks.
“We can educate (visitors) on the benefits of wearing a mask,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak told the Review-Journal on Friday. “(Casinos) encourage their guests to, they provide them to the guests if they don’t have them with them, and I think that’s the best that we can do. … (But) I don’t want to have guests coming in here to have a good time and mandate that we wear a mask. A lot of these folks are coming from other areas where they don’t encourage masks as much as we do. So there’s an education process involved here, and we’re encouraging folks to do that.”
Even Caesar himself is doing that. The statue of the legendary leader of the Roman Empire at the entrance to Caesars Palace is wearing a gold mask.
Many foodies come to Las Vegas to help satiate their discerning palates as some of the finest restaurants in the country run by some of the greatest chefs around.
Restaurants are open and will operate at reduced capacity to help maintain social distancing. But, for now, at the few hotels that opened this past week, buffets are not open yet.
More hotels and restaurants will be opening this coming week.
Yes, you can go on the High Roller observation wheel, yes you can linger in front of the famous dancing water Bellagio fountains, and you can even ride the roller coaster at New York-New York hotel.
But you can’t catch a show just yet and you can’t spend $800 a bottle at nightclubs.
Some Things Will Never Change
USA Today had a great take on the things that will never change about Las Vegas, some good and some not so good.
You can still get free drinks as long as you are gambling, a tradition that dates back to when Las Vegas was first created. You can even smoke on the casino floor.
But it’s still costly venture to hit Las Vegas. Resort fee surcharges, which can top $45 or $50 a night with tax at high-end hotels like Bellagio and Caesars Palace, remain. The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is even raising its resort fee, from $44.22 to $51.02, in January. And if you need cash, Las Vegas casino ATMs are still charging $7.99 or $8.99 to withdraw your money – not to mention what your bank charges if you go out of network.
Of course, though times changed decades ago from when Las Vegas was the only place in the country where you could legally gamble, placing a few dollars on a hand of cards or a tiny bouncing ball or a spinning wheel is the city’s raison d'etre and will never change.
And on Friday, one day after the legendary Caesar’s Palace reopened, a visitor from Los Angeles hit the Let It Ride major progressive jackpot for $670,637.
No, some things will never change.
Las Vegas casinos were permitted to reopen on June 4, 2020. There were 61 Las Vegas casino reopenings that day. A total of 25 remained closed. Nine of those properties reopened later with 16 still shuttered as of July 24, 2020. The list below details what is known about the future of these casino-hotels.
Closed Las Vegas Strip casinos
There are five closed casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Only one has a scheduled reopening date.
It appears that Cromwell will not reopen soon. Love Island, a reality TV show, is reportedly taking the hotel over for a quarantine filming for the series. Details, including filming dates, are not yet available. However, this would seem to keep Cromwell closed for months. Its small hotel and casino floor, as well as reliance on nightclub business, made it likely to be one of the last Caesars properties to reopen all along.
Update: Mirage announced it will reopen on August 27
Mirage is closed indefinitely. It is accepting reservations, but those guests get bumped to another company property when the date arrives. As I noted in my predictions during the closure, Mirage seems like the odd MGM Resorts property out. It is not connected to the company’s other Las Vegas properties. I expect Park MGM to open before Mirage. It is the only other MGM Resorts casino property still shuttered.
Update: Park MGM will reopen on September 30
There is no reopening date for Park MGM. Rumors are that it was set aside to host players if the NBA or NHL chose Las Vegas to complete the season. That never happened. I expect it to be the next MGM Resorts casino to reopen, but that could be months away. There is some evidence that it will be a nonsmoking property when it returns.
Planet Hollywood does not have a reopening date. It will likely be the next Caesars Entertainment property to return. However, Bally’s just opened, and there is not much demand to expand hotel capacity now. It will likely remain closed until closer to Labor Day, maybe beyond.
Tropicana is the only one of the five shuttered Las Vegas Strip casinos with an open date. It is scheduled to welcome guests again on September 17. The date was originally September 1.
Near Las Vegas Strip
Three casinos near the Las Vegas Strip remain closed. These properties are aimed more at tourists than locals.
Palms is closed indefinitely. It is not taking any reservations. However, Palms Place is open, and rooms are available there.
Update: Oyo reopens on September 16.
Oyo, the former Hooters property, has pushed its reopening date back three times. It started out at July 1. It moved to July 16, then August 5, before the current September 1 date.
Rio is accepting reservations starting August 3. It keeps bumping existing reservations to the Strip when the date arrives. Rio seems like the most likely on this list to never reopen. The two-year leaseback, which is already about one-third over, is problematic for the property’s future under Caesars Entertainment.
Downtown Las Vegas
Main Street Station
Main Street Station is the only closed casino in downtown Las Vegas. It is owned by Boyd Gaming. The company owns two other downtown casinos, one of which is connected to Main Street Station and is much slower than usual. Main Street Station is not expected to open at least until Hawaii eases its travel restrictions with the mainland. That is still likely several months away.
Las Vegas locals casinos
There are seven locals casinos that remain closed. Only one has a reopening date set.
Eastside Cannery is closed indefinitely. It is not taking reservations for any date. It has struggled since it opened in 2008. Boyd Gaming acquired it in 2016 and downsized its operations. The company also owns Sam’s Town and Jokers Wild on Boulder Highway. Both these casinos are open.
Eldorado is a small downtown Henderson casino owned by Boyd Gaming. It is closed indefinitely.
Fiesta Henderson and Fiesta Rancho
Fiesta Henderson and Rancho are owned by Station Casinos. Each is closed indefinitely.
Rainbow Club was acquired by the owner of Emerald Island. Both are in downtown Henderson. Rainbow Club is under renovation. It is expected to reopen on September 16.
Silver Nugget (reopened since the post was published)
Silver Nugget is in North Las Vegas. It has no reopening date. Lucky Club, its sister casino, is open.
Texas Station is one of four Station Casinos properties that are closed. Like the others, it has no reopening date.
Primm and Jean
Casino Openings Las Vegas
Buffalo Bill’s in Primm is closed until at least October. Terrible’s in Jean is closed indefinitely. I wrote more about its future in a recent trip report.