Temperature checks, mask enforcement and social distancing circles have become the norm in Las Vegas since casino-resorts reopened June 4. Eleven weeks since the masses returned, the results are in on the safest places to party like it’s 2019. While up and down the Strip, all the casino operators have taken differing measures to ensure the health and safety of guests, much like the odds at the tables, some are stricter than others.
CELEB Magazine hit the Strip and checked out the protocols of all the major players—the winner, in our opinion, is Wynn, not surprisingly.
Employing numerous experts in the field to structure their procedures, the guest experience is seamless from entry to exit.
The Winner is Wynn
When you enter the Wynn or Encore, every person is counted and thermal-scanned. All must be masked, and if you don’t have one, you will be offered a complimentary one. If the mask is not over your nose, you will be politely asked to fix it. If your temperature is found to be over 100.4, you will be taken to a secondary screening area. Here’s the catch: It is 115 degrees in Las Vegas—so sometimes a second check is necessary due to the extreme heat.
For hotel guests who scan high, Wynn offers onsite COVID-19 testing right away—while the results come in, you will be asked to self-isolate in your room and the results will be available in a few hours. “Self-isolating” and “Las Vegas” simply do not go together, but we applaud Wynn for its thoroughness.
In the restaurants, menus are now available via QR code, check presenters are now disposable and there’s a placemat for face coverings so they don’t sit directly on the table. Around the resort, find more than 300 hand sanitizing units.
While we assume no one will be blowing on the dice during a pandemic, measures have been taken on all games to sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.
At the craps table, in between every shooter, the dice are cleaned with a handy wipe, as well as the dice stick.
Casino executives say during the months Wynn was closed, all the chips were deep-cleaned in a chip washing machine. And every single night during the graveyard shift, there is a team of chip cleaners who hit those babies hard with disinfectant.
Each game is handled a bit differently. At the Baccarat table, players aren’t allowed to touch the cards anyway, and the deck is discarded after every hand. In Blackjack, players don’t touch the cards either. And for the safety of the dealers who do touch the cards, they are discarded several times a day.
Throughout the casino, plexiglass dividers have been installed to separate players at the tables. Except for roulette, which poses the most challenging configuration since players have to be able to access all parts of the felt. There, smoking is no longer allowed.
Whenever a customer leaves a table, the supervisor cleans the table rail and any other hard surfaces, as well as the chair and the plexiglass.
Blackjack tables, which normally have six players, are down to four thanks to the installation of plexiglass barriers—without the barriers only three would be allowed. Slot quads are only operating at two.
Previously, craps tables that accommodated 14 to 16 players are now down to eight, again thanks to the barriers; otherwise they would be at six.
Poker is not open.
Wynn did not remove any tables but did use the old-fashioned ruler method to make sure everything was appropriately spaced—6 feet apart.
Fear not, the free cocktail service casino players love has not been changed or modified. And the buffet is back in business, except the food comes direct to you.
Another nice touch: If you decide to allow the valet attendant into your car, they leave sanitizing wipes in the cupholder to clean the steering wheel.
Runner Up: The Venetian
The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, which also includes The Palazzo, is a close runner-up for safest Las Vegas casino.
The safety plan has 800 initiatives. Here, everyone is thermal-scanned as well and air systems operate at maximum ventilation and maximum exhaust, increasing the flow of outdoor fresh air into the building, while lessening the amount of air that is recirculated.
Guest suites within the three towers are now accessed by digital keys and feature air conditioning systems that are independent of one another, which means they do not recirculate air directly from suite to suite within the HVAC system. Each suite receives fresh outside air and has its own exhaust. Linens are washed at temperatures over 140 degrees, and every surface within the room is hit with a viral disinfectant.
Upon arrival, guests receive a Venetian Clean personal car amenity kit in every suite with two face masks, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a packet of sanitizing wipes. Each day of their stay, guests receive fresh masks.
Standard in all resorts now is this type of personal amenity kit. Also standard, sadly, most resorts have done away with the minibar. RIP $20 little bottle of Tito’s—we won’t miss you unless it’s 3 a.m.
Vegas Is Open for Business, Mostly
While most of the major casinos have reopened, The Cromwell, Rio, Park MGM, Planet Hollywood, Linq Hotel and Palms are all still closed with no announced reopening dates.
Recently, it was announced that The Mirage will reopen August 27. Yes, that means the iconic volcano will erupt once more. The Mirage will follow MGM Resorts’ comprehensive Seven-Point Safety Plan, guided by medical and scientific experts to mitigate the spread of the virus. The full plan can be reviewed at mgmresorts.com, but some highlights include plexiglass barriers on some games, employee testing and temperature screening, standalone handwashing stations on casino floors, contactless check-in through the MGM Resorts App, and to minimize groups congregating while they wait, restaurant guests receive text message notification when their tables are ready.
Universally, Las Vegas did away with paid parking, which some casinos implemented a few years ago, and given the data on visitation, it’s a return to the basics for these high-stakes businesses. Despite all the measures being taken, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked economic havoc on the city. Early data from the reopening says tourists are on a slow roll to return.
Visitation Is Down 70 Percent from 2019
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority recently released June visitation numbers, and the slump is staggering. June saw 1.1. million visitors, down 70 percent from June 2019—and down 54 percent year-to-date. Overall, there are 95,396 hotel rooms available—excluding temporary closures—and total occupancy reached 40.9 percent for the month, with weekend occupancy coming in at 51.8 percent and midweek occupancy of 36.5 percent. Average daily rates among open properties reached $104.07, down 13.6 percent percent. In June 2019, there were more than 141,000 rooms, and occupancy was at 91.7 percent.
Not helping the matter, over the past few weeks two of the city’s main economic drivers took major hits. Electric Daisy Carnival, which was rescheduled from May to October, will now not happen until 2021, and the Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place in January, will not take place in 2021.
No festivals and conventions mean no hotel rooms, no flights, no dinners, no drinks, no expense accounts.
For a city that makes its money on hedonism, there appears to be no relief in sight. On August 20, bars, clubs, taverns, breweries and wine bars were ordered to remain closed indefinitely, as Nevada recorded its one-day death toll record of 38 people from the virus. Nightclubs and pool parties, the bread and butter of the casinos’ entertainment offerings, have pivoted to become lounges serving food—and are turning a profit despite reduced capacities and lower overheads, sources say.
Most of the major casino operators who furloughed staff in March extended employee benefits until August 31. It is expected they will announce the full scope of permanent layoffs by September 1.