Despite the Pandemic, Casinos Have Never Been Busier

Despite the Pandemic, Casinos Have Never Been Busier

Photo by Kay on Unsplash

This is true, especially in Maryland and Nevada, where the leisure and hospitality sectors are slowly digging themselves out of the hole.

Over the past year, the staff at Maryland’s six casinos have been developing ingenious strategies to keep the dice rolling on the craps tables while observing COVID safety measures.

The New Normality

Most of the U.S. casinos that have reopened since July 2020 have been working at 50% of their capacity. Although playing slots is mostly a solitary experience, it is depressing to see that every second seat is empty.

For example, El Cortez Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas went down to just 700 slot machines in June 2021 from 1,400 before the pandemic.

Like most land-based casinos across the USA, The El Cortez uses acrylic dividers at its poker, craps baccarat, and blackjack tables.

The situation with table games is even stranger. Poker and blackjack players are separated by plexiglass screens, constantly sprayed with Windex by tireless cleaners.

Masks are mandatory, which means players no longer need to “read” each other’s poker faces. And yet, casinos in Maryland have seen their revenues soar in July 2021 amid the strict sanitizing measures, masks, and social distancing.

Online Casinos Report Soaring Profits

The state collected over $77 million of July’s total revenues from casino games. Unaffected by any anti-COVID restrictions, Maryland’s largest online casino, MGM Nationwide Harbor, reported over $72 million profit from gaming in July 2021, an increase of more than 38% year-on-year.

Dwell! Online Casino & Lodge made close to 63 million dollars this July alone, up by more than 22% from a year ago.

Baltimore-registered Horseshoe Online Casino, which had been reporting falling profits since the pandemic’s start, managed to turn the tables and announced a gaming income of over $19 million, up by more than 22% from a year ago.

How Are Land-based Casinos Doing Across the USA?

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada, reported a steady increase in the number of visitors, despite its closed hot tubs.

The casino’s several gaming areas and the bowling alley were opened in April 2021 on conditions of social distancing and mandatory face masks.

Sharing Tips and Providing Free Masks

At the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, dealers who tested positive for COVID-19 would still receive their usual tips for two weeks as an encouragement to keep the bed.

When the facility restored operations in April 2021, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino’s visitors were grateful that the staff had taken all of the necessary precautions to keep business going as usual.

Some of them included the installation of several hand sanitizer stations at each table. Upon entering the casino, each guest is provided with a free mask, which they can replace in a couple of hours.

The Strip Is Slowly Returning to Life

When Nevada’s governor ordered non-essential businesses to close down in March 2020, The Strip went dark for the first time since the assassination of JFK in 1963.

A year later, Las Vegas’s tourism watchdog LVCVA reported that over 2.2 million tourists had visited The Strip in March 2020, compared to around 1.5 million a month earlier.

Vaccinated Visitors no Longer Have to Wear Masks

On June 1, the state government lifted all capacity limits and social distancing requirements for casinos and hotels.

As a result, many casinos in Las Vegas allowed fully vaccinated people to play without masks at slot machines or card tables.

Capacity limitations were also lifted, and all of Cosmopolitan, Wynn, and Encore’s gaming areas are bustling.

At Wynn, even unvaccinated people can take off their masks for a cup of coffee, a snack, or a cigarette. The plexiglass barriers dividing players are now gone, and the tendency is expected to spread to other states.

The Pandemic Took its Toll on Nevada’s Casinos

As of June 1, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gave the casinos the green light to lift all capacity restrictions. But for some businesses like the Main Street Station operated by the Boyd Gaming Corporation, this is easier said than done.

The management can’t guarantee that the number of visitors will be enough to cover the operating costs. Other casinos, like the Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho, have put their gaming and liquor licenses on hold until the spring of 2022, quoting an unfavorable business climate.

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