Nevada governor green-lights June 4 reopening of casinos; Las Vegas gets ready

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The main entrance to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, devoid of the usual taxis and other vehicles, is seen May 16 during the state-ordered shutdown of Nevada. Traffic is expected to resume, at least to some degree, when the resort reopens on June 4.
Caesars Palace is expected to reopen June 4. (Jay Jones)

Las Vegas’ dozens of resorts, along with hotel-casinos throughout Nevada, can reopen June 4, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Tuesday evening.

"We will certainly be welcoming visitors back to Nevada on June 4,” Sisolak said in a telephone news conference from the governor’s mansion in Carson City, where he is in quarantine after potential exposure to the novel coronavirus. “We’ve taken every precaution possible. I don’t think you’re going to find a safer place to come than Las Vegas.”

The green light came after a day of consultations among resort operators, health experts and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which regulates the casinos. Sisolak sought reassurances from board members that safety measures could be in place by June 4 before he would approve the reopening.

Along the Las Vegas Strip, about one-third of the 35 or so resorts have shifted into high gear as they prepare to welcome guests next week, including Southern Californians, who last year made up 19% of visitors to the city.

Many of those visitors drove. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported an average of nearly 45,000 vehicles crossing the California/Nevada line on Interstate 15 each day in 2019.

Las Vegas hotel-casinos set to open June 4:

Caesars Palace and Flamingo, two of Caesars Entertainment’s 11 resorts on or near the Strip. Once the number of visitors can sustain growth, Harrah’s and the casino at the Linq resort will reopen, although no timetable has been set. Parts of the Linq Promenade, including the High Roller observation wheel, also will welcome guests starting June 4.

MGM Resorts will reopen four of its 13 Las Vegas properties: Bellagio, MGM Grand, New York-New York and The Signature at MGM Grand.

Wynn-Encore promising a full, pre-pandemic Vegas experience.

“Wynn Las Vegas plans to offer guests a complete Las Vegas experience by opening every amenity and outlet available,” a news release said. “Both hotel towers and the casino as well as all restaurants will reopen on June 4, followed by the resort’s newest restaurant, Elio, later in the month.”

The Venetian will reopen with a collection of more than a dozen restaurants and several lounges, including the popular Dorsey Cocktail Bar. Numerous retail outlets will also be opening their doors.

•The websites of the Cosmopolitan, Sahara, the Strat, Treasure Island and Tropicana, run by smaller gaming organizations, are also accepting reservations beginning the night of June 4.

Attractions, restaurants to open June 4

All resorts that are reopening also will open their pools, but social distancing will be enforced.

The Fountains of Bellagio and the Conservatory & Botanical Garden with a new spring floral display: “Japan Journey: Magic of Kansai.” A variety of lounges and restaurants will also welcome guests, including The Mayfair Supper Club, which launched less than three months before the March 17 shutdown order.

At New York-New York, the Big Apple Coaster and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Sample room rates

Room rates as of Tuesday varied for opening night. The Strat had rooms starting at $21 for June 4 but $94 the next night (excluding taxes and fees), when hotels are hoping for an influx of returning visitors, including many from Southern California.

Other prices, also excluding taxes and fees, for June 4 and June 5:

Flamingo Las Vegas: $35/$75

Tropicana: $39/$79

MGM Grand: $49/$99

Caesars Palace: $99/$149

Bellagio: $249/$299

Most hotel-casinos will be waiving charges for self-parking. Because of health concerns, valet parking won’t immediately be available.

How resorts have changed

Guests’ temperatures will be checked at entrances to all resorts. Although face masks will be required for all employees, they are “encouraged” for visitors. Smokers can light up in public spaces, including casinos. Hand sanitizer will be available.

Walking through the various hotels just after they reopen, guests will find many bars, restaurants and shops still closed. Just as with the resorts themselves, visitor volume will dictate when each establishment will relaunch.

“How much we reopen and how many amenities we introduce is really a function of how much demand there is for the business,” said Sean McBurney, general manager of Caesars Palace. “But we have to have a fun environment.”

Sisolak said that if COVID-19 cases spike in the run-up to June 4, he is prepared to “pull back” from the scheduled reopening.

“The only sure thing we can do is have a vaccine," he said. "And until we have a vaccine, we have to focus on our technology intervening quickly if there’s a problem.

"I’m confident Las Vegas is a safe place to come. And visitors are going to have a great time.”