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From Gaming Tables To Masks, Recapping Las Vegas’ Big Reopening Weekend

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As the clock struck midnight on June 4, you could almost feel the electric anticipation of people getting ready to finally visit Las Vegas casinos again.

Casinos on the Vegas Strip opened at 8 a.m. and later on June 4. After a quick temperature check at many casinos, gamblers rushed in to place their first bets inside of a casino in nearly three months. While there were celebrations for the first guests at Caesars Palace and Bellagio, the scene was a bit more relaxed.

There was plenty of excitement to check into hotel rooms and hit table games and slot machines but visitors were cautious at first. That changed as the days continued and more guests arrived in Las Vegas from all over the world — and presumably, as the cocktails flowed.

Michael Trager, a visitor at Caesars Palace from London, told PlayUSA that he wanted to come to the reopening of Las Vegas because “I needed to see the reopening of Vegas. This is historic. In addition, in some ways, this pandemic has caused Vegas to change forever.”

The energy on the Las Vegas Strip

There are more than 100 casinos in the Las Vegas area. Only 30 of those casinos are located on the Vegas Strip and not all of those properties are currently open. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International operate the majority of casinos on the Vegas Strip and are opening properties in phases.

MGM Resorts opened Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York with limited capacity. Excalibur will open later this week on June 11. MGM Resorts’ acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’d like to open Aria by July 4th weekend. He’d like to continue opening MGM properties every two to four weeks after.

Caesars Entertainment started with Flamingo and Caesars Palace. The company opened Harrah’s and The Linq promenade on June 5 due to overwhelming demand. Caesars expects to open The Linq casino, but not the hotel, next. The properties that are open now can offer more hotels and amenities for guests should customer demand continue to increase.

While the atmosphere on opening day at Bellagio was somewhat subdued, Caesars Palace and the Cosmopolitan were just getting started. Guests from California started to arrive on Friday afternoon and they were much more exuberant. Here’s a quick scene from the casino floor at Cosmopolitan on Friday night into Saturday morning.

To mask or not to mask

MGM Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas are offering complimentary face masks for anyone entering their properties. However, most casinos in Las Vegas are not offering free masks for all guests. Casino employees are required to wear face coverings at all times. Casino operators recommend guests wear a face mask but do not require it.

The video above captures a young crowd almost exclusively not wearing face coverings. This wasn’t the case all day. When the sun was still up on the first days of Las Vegas reopening there were noticeably more guests on and off the Vegas Strip wearing masks.

There was one thing in common with the majority of the guests wearing a face covering: the guests wearing masks tended to be older and more susceptible to catching COVID-19. Dru Chai, a visitor from California staying at New York-New York told PlayUSA that he “felt safe after visiting all three MGM Resorts properties that re-opened on June 4, although my experience was different at Bellagio where there were significantly more people compared to MGM Grand and New York-New York.”

Safety at Las Vegas casinos

The Nevada Gaming Control Board gave casinos a detailed list of health and safety policy requirements for reopening. Casino operators aren’t required to share their health and safety plans although many decided to do so before reopening.

The first thing some guests will notice happens right at the doors to enter a casino. Some casinos in Las Vegas — not all — are taking the temperature of guests upon entry. Checking temperatures is a way to see if a guest might have some symptoms of COVID-19. The process takes a couple of seconds but as casinos become busier, there could be a short wait.

The starkest change guests will see are dealers, and all casino employees, wearing face coverings. Sitting down at the tables and machines is also a different experience. There’s more space for social distancing and it’s noticeable with only three seats at blackjack and similar table games.

Craps is limited to six players while roulette tables only have space for four players. Slot machines have either been rearranged to create more space or there are chairs missing from games that might also be turned off.

Social distancing while gambling seems to be off to a good start at the larger casinos that have more room and open tables. Smaller casinos off the Vegas Strip might have some problems with onlookers. The limited space at the table might make gamblers hover while waiting to hop onto a hot craps game.

Social distancing measures could change in the future. For the time being, gamblers didn’t seem to mind having extra elbow room. Gamblers also didn’t mind playing behind plexiglass barriers at the few casinos that have the extra protective measure.

Chai also told PlayUSA “I was impressed that there were hand washing stations, including free masks, gloves, and sanitizing wipes readily available throughout the casino floor. There was an increased level of security, especially at highly trafficked points of entry.”

Even though there are significant safety precautions today, he wonders how long it will last, saying “it will be interesting to see how social distancing will be regulated when crowds significantly increase.”

Las Vegas is reopening slowly

Social distancing on the casino floor is an attempt to keep gaming spaces capped at 50% of capacity. This is mostly an attempt to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum. It also affords casino operators the ability to ease into restart their businesses slowly

Casino restaurants also have a 50% capacity limit. Some eateries remain closed while others have limited hours. This should change in the future but the limits are allowing the casino operators to re-learn how to walk before they run on all cylinders again.

Today’s Las Vegas does not offer the same experience as the beginning of March. In addition to limited bars and restaurants, most of the entertainment options that visitors love in Las Vegas have not returned yet.

Nevada venues can only have gatherings of 50 or fewer people right now. Large shows and residencies might return later this year or next year depending on the venue. Nightclubs aren’t open yet either. Pools are open for guests but don’t expect to see dayclubs and pool parties return anytime soon.

While large shows aren’t open, small lounges like Petrossian at Bellagio still offer their signature piano player to entertain its guests.

Is it time to visit Las Vegas again?

Las Vegas casinos are taking reopening very seriously. The thorough health and safety plans are an indication of the measures they’re going through to keep guests safe. It takes two to tango and guests have to do their part to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Many, but not all, casino guests are choosing to go without a face covering since there isn’t a mandate to wear one. The casinos are cleaning surfaces often but that doesn’t mean every surface is germ-free 24-7. While there are sanitizing stations, guests have to use them to do their part.

Anecdotally, those who wear masks are also washing hands often and using sanitizer often. Those not wearing masks might not be washing as frequently.

Wearing masks and cleanliness are personal matters for everyone. The casinos are doing their part and many of the best restaurants are open, albeit with limited menus. Almost every casino employee we’ve come across in the past few days has been happy to be at work and looking to welcome guests back to Las Vegas.

In a strange way, closing down casinos might have led to a way to improve the experience. The great customer service that Las Vegas is famous for is firing on all cylinders and is as good as it has been in years. Casino operators have streamlined and automated many hotel processes so guests can get what they want quicker.

This may not be the same Las Vegas as a year ago but it’s on the way back to being better than ever. It’s just going to take some time to get there.



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From Gaming Tables To Masks, Recapping Las Vegas’ Big Reopening Weekend

[ad_1]

As the clock struck midnight on June 4, you could almost feel the electric anticipation of people getting ready to finally visit Las Vegas casinos again.

Casinos on the Vegas Strip opened at 8 a.m. and later on June 4. After a quick temperature check at many casinos, gamblers rushed in to place their first bets inside of a casino in nearly three months. While there were celebrations for the first guests at Caesars Palace and Bellagio, the scene was a bit more relaxed.

There was plenty of excitement to check into hotel rooms and hit table games and slot machines but visitors were cautious at first. That changed as the days continued and more guests arrived in Las Vegas from all over the world — and presumably, as the cocktails flowed.

Michael Trager, a visitor at Caesars Palace from London, told PlayUSA that he wanted to come to the reopening of Las Vegas because “I needed to see the reopening of Vegas. This is historic. In addition, in some ways, this pandemic has caused Vegas to change forever.”

The energy on the Las Vegas Strip

There are more than 100 casinos in the Las Vegas area. Only 30 of those casinos are located on the Vegas Strip and not all of those properties are currently open. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International operate the majority of casinos on the Vegas Strip and are opening properties in phases.

MGM Resorts opened Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York with limited capacity. Excalibur will open later this week on June 11. MGM Resorts’ acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal he’d like to open Aria by July 4th weekend. He’d like to continue opening MGM properties every two to four weeks after.

Caesars Entertainment started with Flamingo and Caesars Palace. The company opened Harrah’s and The Linq promenade on June 5 due to overwhelming demand. Caesars expects to open The Linq casino, but not the hotel, next. The properties that are open now can offer more hotels and amenities for guests should customer demand continue to increase.

While the atmosphere on opening day at Bellagio was somewhat subdued, Caesars Palace and the Cosmopolitan were just getting started. Guests from California started to arrive on Friday afternoon and they were much more exuberant. Here’s a quick scene from the casino floor at Cosmopolitan on Friday night into Saturday morning.

To mask or not to mask

MGM Resorts and Wynn Las Vegas are offering complimentary face masks for anyone entering their properties. However, most casinos in Las Vegas are not offering free masks for all guests. Casino employees are required to wear face coverings at all times. Casino operators recommend guests wear a face mask but do not require it.

The video above captures a young crowd almost exclusively not wearing face coverings. This wasn’t the case all day. When the sun was still up on the first days of Las Vegas reopening there were noticeably more guests on and off the Vegas Strip wearing masks.

There was one thing in common with the majority of the guests wearing a face covering: the guests wearing masks tended to be older and more susceptible to catching COVID-19. Dru Chai, a visitor from California staying at New York-New York told PlayUSA that he “felt safe after visiting all three MGM Resorts properties that re-opened on June 4, although my experience was different at Bellagio where there were significantly more people compared to MGM Grand and New York-New York.”

Safety at Las Vegas casinos

The Nevada Gaming Control Board gave casinos a detailed list of health and safety policy requirements for reopening. Casino operators aren’t required to share their health and safety plans although many decided to do so before reopening.

The first thing some guests will notice happens right at the doors to enter a casino. Some casinos in Las Vegas — not all — are taking the temperature of guests upon entry. Checking temperatures is a way to see if a guest might have some symptoms of COVID-19. The process takes a couple of seconds but as casinos become busier, there could be a short wait.

The starkest change guests will see are dealers, and all casino employees, wearing face coverings. Sitting down at the tables and machines is also a different experience. There’s more space for social distancing and it’s noticeable with only three seats at blackjack and similar table games.

Craps is limited to six players while roulette tables only have space for four players. Slot machines have either been rearranged to create more space or there are chairs missing from games that might also be turned off.

Social distancing while gambling seems to be off to a good start at the larger casinos that have more room and open tables. Smaller casinos off the Vegas Strip might have some problems with onlookers. The limited space at the table might make gamblers hover while waiting to hop onto a hot craps game.

Social distancing measures could change in the future. For the time being, gamblers didn’t seem to mind having extra elbow room. Gamblers also didn’t mind playing behind plexiglass barriers at the few casinos that have the extra protective measure.

Chai also told PlayUSA “I was impressed that there were hand washing stations, including free masks, gloves, and sanitizing wipes readily available throughout the casino floor. There was an increased level of security, especially at highly trafficked points of entry.”

Even though there are significant safety precautions today, he wonders how long it will last, saying “it will be interesting to see how social distancing will be regulated when crowds significantly increase.”

Las Vegas is reopening slowly

Social distancing on the casino floor is an attempt to keep gaming spaces capped at 50% of capacity. This is mostly an attempt to keep the spread of coronavirus to a minimum. It also affords casino operators the ability to ease into restart their businesses slowly

Casino restaurants also have a 50% capacity limit. Some eateries remain closed while others have limited hours. This should change in the future but the limits are allowing the casino operators to re-learn how to walk before they run on all cylinders again.

Today’s Las Vegas does not offer the same experience as the beginning of March. In addition to limited bars and restaurants, most of the entertainment options that visitors love in Las Vegas have not returned yet.

Nevada venues can only have gatherings of 50 or fewer people right now. Large shows and residencies might return later this year or next year depending on the venue. Nightclubs aren’t open yet either. Pools are open for guests but don’t expect to see dayclubs and pool parties return anytime soon.

While large shows aren’t open, small lounges like Petrossian at Bellagio still offer their signature piano player to entertain its guests.

Is it time to visit Las Vegas again?

Las Vegas casinos are taking reopening very seriously. The thorough health and safety plans are an indication of the measures they’re going through to keep guests safe. It takes two to tango and guests have to do their part to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Many, but not all, casino guests are choosing to go without a face covering since there isn’t a mandate to wear one. The casinos are cleaning surfaces often but that doesn’t mean every surface is germ-free 24-7. While there are sanitizing stations, guests have to use them to do their part.

Anecdotally, those who wear masks are also washing hands often and using sanitizer often. Those not wearing masks might not be washing as frequently.

Wearing masks and cleanliness are personal matters for everyone. The casinos are doing their part and many of the best restaurants are open, albeit with limited menus. Almost every casino employee we’ve come across in the past few days has been happy to be at work and looking to welcome guests back to Las Vegas.

In a strange way, closing down casinos might have led to a way to improve the experience. The great customer service that Las Vegas is famous for is firing on all cylinders and is as good as it has been in years. Casino operators have streamlined and automated many hotel processes so guests can get what they want quicker.

This may not be the same Las Vegas as a year ago but it’s on the way back to being better than ever. It’s just going to take some time to get there.



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Las Vegas Casinos Prepare For June 4 Reopenings

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After what seems like months of quarantining, states across the country have started allowing businesses to reopen. Closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, casinos have begun resuming operations.

Normalization is well underway. But that does not mean we can stop being safe and smart. If anything, we need to emphasize it more.

On to the Rewind:

Las Vegas casinos ready to reopen

After weeks of closure, casinos in Nevada have received the go-ahead to begin reopening.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last week that brick-and-mortars in the Silver State can resume operations starting June 4 as part of his “Roadmap to Recovery” plan.

As a result, a number of properties appear ready to take advantage of that authorization.

Many aim to open immediately, including:

  • Caesars Entertainment: Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s
  • MGM Resorts: Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand
  • Station Casinos: Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Sunset Station
  • Boyd Gaming: The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Aliante, Cannery, Sam’s Town, Fremont, California, Jokers Wild

Many casino ownership groups have spent that past month piecing together new health and safety plans, ones that meet requirements set forth by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

These guidelines include limiting business to 50% capacity and enforcing social distancing on casino floors.

California sports betting bill emerges

Among states where it seems unlikely legalized sports betting will lay roots, California is high on the list. While that might remain the case, the Golden State has pushed forth a bill that provides a compromise for retail and online sports betting.

Six months after Sen. Bill Dodd and Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced constitutional amendment bills, lawmakers last week completed the legislation with additional details.

Included is the authorization for legalized wagering at tribal casinos and racetracks. And while cardrooms were omitted, those establishments would be allowed to offer designated player games that have generated contention from tribes.

This move comes as lawmakers seek additional revenue during a financially difficult time created by the coronavirus pandemic and as they attempt to limit $14 billion in proposed cuts from the governor.

The sports betting bill would result in a 10% tax on gross revenue for retail betting and a 15% tax on mobile betting while also requiring a $5 million initial licensing fee and $1 million annual fee for online sportsbooks.

California faces a budget deadline of June 15, though this bill has until June 25 to receive approval and land on the November ballot. Dodd told Legal Sports Report that he expects the Senate Governmental Organization Committee to vote on the bill June 2.

That said, lawmakers face a challenge from tribes, who might not be as accepting of this bill, specifically as they relate to cardrooms. The proposed legislation would effectively legalize designated-player games after tribes have long attacked what are now illegal operations.

As one spokesman told LSR: “The notion of authorizing cardrooms to conduct Nevada-style games is an absolute non-starter that repeals tribal gaming rights.”

DC sports betting launches without apps

Legalized sports betting soft-launched in the nation’s capital. Yet even as it gets off the ground two months after it initially intended, wagering in Washington DC faces quite the uphill battle.

The Gambet DC product starts with a web browser-based product only, as its iOS and Android apps are not expected to go live until early June.

Sure, with limited sports on which to wager, a slow rollout of such platforms is not incredibly terrible. The odds, though? That’s another story.

Out in Big Sky Country, Intralot powers Sports Bet Montana, which debuted earlier this year with miserable odds. Apparently, the group did not learn much, as it did the same in DC.

For example, many of the opening week point spreads for NFL games feature -118 lines on both sides. Even UFC Fight Night odds via Intralot cannot even compare with more favorable lines at other legal US sportsbooks.

Sports betting in Washington could expand soon. Along with this official lottery platform, stadiums, arenas and sports bars are qualified to offer legalized wagering. (William Hill, for example, will power the retail sportsbook at Capital One Arena.)

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Las Vegas Casinos Detail Reopening Dates And Safety Plans

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Las Vegas casinos and non-essential businesses were ordered to close in March to help slow the spread of coronavirus. We can’t say with 100% certainty when Las Vegas casinos will reopen but we have an idea of dates and how they’ll approach opening for guests once again.

The largest casino operators in Las Vegas recently shared plans on how the properties will reopen. Many of these casino operators have also released health and safety plans to provide specific details on how the companies plan to protect guests.

Las Vegas casino openings

Las Vegas casinos were ordered closed in the middle of March by Gov. Steve Sisolak to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The entire state is slowly allowing businesses to reopen. Phase 1 of the “Roadmap to Recovery For Nevada” is currently underway.

Reopening casinos is not part of the first phase of the reopening of Nevada. In fact, the Governor won’t give details on when casinos will reopen. The Nevada Gaming Control Board will announce the dates Las Vegas casinos can reopen. Once a date is announced it will be up to the casino operator to reopen.

Las Vegas casinos keep moving the goal post to take reservations again based on dates they’ve been told already. The casinos with open reservations are just trying to prepare for reopening. There’s nothing set in stone just yet. Every casino operator is taking a different approach to opening.

Here are the current estimated opening dates for some Las Vegas casinos:

  • Caesars Entertainment – May 22
  • Cosmopolitan – June 4
  • MGM Resorts – June 1
  • The Orleans (select Boyd Gaming properties) – June 1
  • Station Casinos – June 1
  • Treasure Island – May 22
  • The Venetian – June 1
  • Wynn Las Vegas – May 26

Remember, these dates are all subject to change.

Slowly reopening Las Vegas casinos

Las Vegas casinos won’t look the same when they reopen. Everything at the casinos — including the properties themselves — will open in phases. The Nevada Gaming Control Board approved that measure last week along with a slew of health and safety requirements for reopening casinos.

The gaming floor will only allow for up to 50% occupancy when casinos reopen. There will be fewer guests allowed in the most popular casinos than usual. This is just a maximum occupancy requirement. A casino can choose to allow fewer guests if they wish.

The NGCB recommends casinos either turn off or remove chairs from every other video poker and slot machine. Table games will also have a limited number of seats available for players.

  • Blackjack: Three (3) players per table
  • Craps: Six (6) players per table
  • Roulette: Four (4) players per table

All games played on a blackjack-sized table like 3 card poker should have the same number of seats available. Poker tables will only be allowed to have four players per table. It’s unclear which poker rooms will reopen alongside the rest of the casinos.

Las Vegas casinos will reopen a limited number of restaurants and bars at first and add more as demand warrants. Entertainment will also be slow to return to Las Vegas casinos. During MGM Resorts’ recent earnings call, the acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle mentioned that he can see smaller shows like Carrot Top returning before large events at T-Mobile Arena.

The gaming control board is also dictating a couple of popular amenities won’t return to Las Vegas casinos reopen. Dayclubs (and pool parties) along with nightclubs will remain closed as casinos open for business.

Phased property openings for Las Vegas casino companies

Just about every Las Vegas casino will reopen in phases. Larger companies will reopen with just a few properties. Each property will offer different amenities and services depending on demand.

The two big operators on the Vegas Strip will approach reopening similarly. Both MGM Resorts and Caesars will only open two casinos to start. Coincidentally or not, each company will open its most iconic property along with a less expensive property. Representatives for both companies also say they can open up to four properties quickly if there’s enough demand.

MGM Resorts will open Bellagio to compete with other luxury properties like Wynn and The Venetian. The company will also open New York-New York to more budget-conscious travelers.

Caesars will open Caesars Palace and a “value property” on the east side of the Vegas Strip. There are rumors that the “value property” will be Flamingo but that hasn’t been confirmed by Caesars Entertainment yet.

The Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas, and other individually operated casinos will reopen with limited hotel room capacity.

Phased reopening for off-Strip properties

The large casino corporations off the Vegas Strip are also taking a phased opening approach for their properties.

Boyd Gaming representatives say the company will only open it’s Las Vegas locals casinos as soon as they’re allowed:

  • Aliante
  • Cannery
  • Eastside Cannery
  • Gold Coast
  • The Orleans
  • Sam’s Town
  • Suncoast

Boyd Gaming representatives said it will open each property with limited restaurants and bars. The company hasn’t released details on specific venue openings for each property but it’s possible that some casinos could open without hotels at first.

Boyd is not expected to open its downtown Las Vegas properties right away. The company will take a wait and see approach for opening The California, Main Street Station, and Fremont Hotel and Casino. These three casinos depend more on tourists traveling to Las Vegas than locals who just want to visit the closest casino.

Station Casinos is also taking a phased opening approach. While most of the company’s high-end properties will reopen right away, Palms will remain closed. Station Casinos will re-open only the following properties in its first phase of reopening.

  • Boulder Station
  • Green Valley Ranch
  • Palace Station
  • Red Rock Casino
  • Santa Fe Station
  • Sunset Station

Smaller casino operators off the Vegas Strip are waiting on the go-ahead to reopen before revealing any specifics. For example, the future of Rampart Casino in Summerlin is in doubt as the property recently laid off most of its employees. However, the company hasn’t said if they will or won’t reopen.

Las Vegas casino health and safety plans

The Nevada Gaming Control Board approved minimum requirements for casinos reopening. Many of the individual plans from casino operators are similar and adhere to the recommendations made by the board.

All casinos will increase how often they clean gaming machines and table game areas. In addition to limiting the number of people in each part of the gaming floor casinos will have hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes for guests to use.

Every part of the table games will be cleaned regularly including tables, chairs, rails, chips, cards, dice, and tiles for Pai Gow. The pits themselves will also be cleaned more often. Casino employees will all be taught best practices in social distancing and cleaning. All casino staff will wear masks. Most casinos will recommend that guests also wear masks.

Here are specific health and safety plans to peruse before visiting your favorite Las Vegas casino:

When casinos reopen they should be cleaner and more streamlined than ever before. MGM Resorts, for example, is offering touchless check-in for its hotels. Guests can check into their rooms via a mobile device. The same device can be used as a key. This has been available for a while but will be promoted more as social distancing and touching fewer objects is more important than ever for many customers.



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Las Vegas’ Innovative Drive-thru Sportsbooks Let Bettors Sign Up And Deposit

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Las Vegas drive-throughs have long been embodied by a burger the East Coasters lust over or weddings for lusty couples.

Now they’re a means for Nevada sportsbooks like Circa Sports, South Point and William Hill to infuse business into retail shops darkened by casino shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered by archaic regulations.

And maybe, Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeff Benson hopes, the ‘valet’ service sprouting in Las Vegas will provide an impetus for the United States’ former lone bastion of legal sports betting to modernize — two years after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act enabled the enterprise nationally.

While states such as Colorado, where Circa will soon launch its first extra-Nevada operation, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, allow for online registration, Nevada requires it be conducted in-person at retail sportsbooks. With those shops shuttered, curbside service was born at a small collection of sportsbooks last week. Benson would like to see them become an obsolete innovation with Nevada joining the full digital domain.

“Given the technological advances of the modern-day times we’re living in, it certainly, makes sense that we go that route,” Benson told PlayUSA. “And I think, obviously the coronavirus situation has certainly maybe accelerated that, given the fact that there’s regulations and social distancing guidelines and all that kind of stuff in terms of being around other people and being in casinos.

“So, I think that will certainly spearhead some of these legislators or operating groups working together to come to an agreement of some sort similar to what has taken place, in New Jersey or Colorado, given how successful they have been with it. I can’t imagine that that would be something put in place by the end of the year, but here in the next couple of years, I think it really forces the gaming control board to take a hard look at it and see if there’s any improvements they can make on the process, given how well it’s gone in other jurisdictions.”

Thank you, please pull forward …

Business has been encouraging at Circa, Benson said, with 120 registrations and “well over six figures in deposits” in the first three days of implementation preceding the UFC 249 card last weekend. Circa opened its curbside service on May 7.

A William Hill spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal business was “steady at all five locations” preceding the bout, also, and the company is considering expanding service in the future, according to a spokesperson.

Lines were longer and slower at South Point, according to anecdotal reports on social media.

“We’ve done similar things in the sense that we’ve done special events or valet locations for Super Bowl betting stations, things like that,” Benson said. “So in that sort of sense, it gave us a little bit of a blueprint. For us, we just tried to focus on the speed and efficiency of the operation, making sure we had enough people, just making sure we were organized, and doing things that cut down the wait time for our guests.”

Benson estimated customers have usually been accommodated within 10 minutes, constituting a “big win for us in terms of maybe some of the logistical challenges given that the casino’s not open and we don’t currently don’t have a cage.”

And therefore, no cash. Amid an odd scene of facemasks and gloves and drive-through betting, an unexpected snag came in the form of making change.

“So if somebody did come up and they wanted to deposit $340, for example, and they only had $400, we didn’t have the ability to obviously make $60 worth of change,” Benson explained. “So, for us, it was quickly something where we were telling people, ‘exact deposits only’, things of that nature.”

And then there was the matter of older uncashed tickets.

“We provided that flexibility just by depositing that entire amount into their account or making them an account and then obviously deposit the entirety of those winnings or refunds from those physical tickets into the account,” Benson said, “given that we weren’t able for security and compliance reasons, able to take cash from the casino to the curb.”

What can patrons do at a curbside Las Vegas sportsbook?

Customers have three services available at Circa’s curbside:

  • Registration and funding.
  • Funding of existing accounts.
  • Registration for other events such as its Circa Sports Million II or Circa Survivor contests.

(Services are similar at the William Hill and South Point).

“That has certainly been very, very helpful,” Benson said. “The reason that we’re doing the drive-through functionality is two-fold. First is because it allows new users to sign up and deposit, whereas with this remote fund funding, people who have never signed up for our app don’t have that luxury.

“And then the other thing is, Play+ functionality does come, in terms of the deposits, with a 3% service fee that is passed along to the consumer. And if you’re doing it, obviously curbside, there is no fee because it’s basically similar to if you were coming into the casino and depositing at the counter.

According to press releases, Circa’s curb will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST daily. South Point’s location will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. William Hill opened five locations for limited service preceding UFC 249.

“Ahead of the largest sporting events of the month, we wanted a safe way to meet the current demand from our customers,” CEO Joe Asher said in a press release.

William Hill offered a $65 bonus for bets for new and existing mobile customers.

How this Las Vegas sportsbook project came together

Benson said his company’s valet service at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street was enacted quickly from its germ as an idea he discussed with sportsbook director Matt Melcalf. They saw it formalized in three days by a compliance team and pitched to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Circa has kept its risk room and mobile app operating during the shutdown mandated by Gov. Steve Sisolak while numerous others have gone dormant in the state. Circa’s launched was enabled by a new online payment system it brought online last month.

Bet MGM, Caesars, Circa and William Hill are the online sportsbooks currently operating.

“I kind of touched on the idea of doing curbside services once. A lot of these other restaurants started to do it, and I’ve seen how successful they were with it,” Benson said. “Then, obviously, there were a couple of other places, William Hill and South Point, who did curbside services as well.

“So, for us, it was just a combination of our management team coming up with this idea and giving our patrons another funding mechanism – especially new patrons given that there’s no remote registration here in Nevada. … It’s just something that given some of the antiquated sports betting laws here in the state and that remote registration isn’t possible.”



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Las Vegas’ Innovative Drive-thru Sportsbooks Let Bettors Sign Up And Deposit

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Las Vegas drive-throughs have long been embodied by a burger the East Coasters lust over or weddings for lusty couples.

Now they’re a means for Nevada sportsbooks like Circa Sports, South Point and William Hill to infuse business into retail shops darkened by casino shutdowns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and hindered by archaic regulations.

And maybe, Circa Sports Operations Manager Jeff Benson hopes, the ‘valet’ service sprouting in Las Vegas will provide an impetus for the United States’ former lone bastion of legal sports betting to modernize — two years after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act enabled the enterprise nationally.

While states such as Colorado, where Circa will soon launch its first extra-Nevada operation, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, allow for online registration, Nevada requires it be conducted in-person at retail sportsbooks. With those shops shuttered, curbside service was born at a small collection of sportsbooks last week. Benson would like to see them become an obsolete innovation with Nevada joining the full digital domain.

“Given the technological advances of the modern-day times we’re living in, it certainly, makes sense that we go that route,” Benson told PlayUSA. “And I think, obviously the coronavirus situation has certainly maybe accelerated that, given the fact that there’s regulations and social distancing guidelines and all that kind of stuff in terms of being around other people and being in casinos.

“So, I think that will certainly spearhead some of these legislators or operating groups working together to come to an agreement of some sort similar to what has taken place, in New Jersey or Colorado, given how successful they have been with it. I can’t imagine that that would be something put in place by the end of the year, but here in the next couple of years, I think it really forces the gaming control board to take a hard look at it and see if there’s any improvements they can make on the process, given how well it’s gone in other jurisdictions.”

Thank you, please pull forward …

Business has been encouraging at Circa, Benson said, with 120 registrations and “well over six figures in deposits” in the first three days of implementation preceding the UFC 249 card last weekend. Circa opened its curbside service on May 7.

A William Hill spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal business was “steady at all five locations” preceding the bout, also, and the company is considering expanding service in the future, according to a spokesperson.

Lines were longer and slower at South Point, according to anecdotal reports on social media.

“We’ve done similar things in the sense that we’ve done special events or valet locations for Super Bowl betting stations, things like that,” Benson said. “So in that sort of sense, it gave us a little bit of a blueprint. For us, we just tried to focus on the speed and efficiency of the operation, making sure we had enough people, just making sure we were organized, and doing things that cut down the wait time for our guests.”

Benson estimated customers have usually been accommodated within 10 minutes, constituting a “big win for us in terms of maybe some of the logistical challenges given that the casino’s not open and we don’t currently don’t have a cage.”

And therefore, no cash. Amid an odd scene of facemasks and gloves and drive-through betting, an unexpected snag came in the form of making change.

“So if somebody did come up and they wanted to deposit $340, for example, and they only had $400, we didn’t have the ability to obviously make $60 worth of change,” Benson explained. “So, for us, it was quickly something where we were telling people, ‘exact deposits only’, things of that nature.”

And then there was the matter of older uncashed tickets.

“We provided that flexibility just by depositing that entire amount into their account or making them an account and then obviously deposit the entirety of those winnings or refunds from those physical tickets into the account,” Benson said, “given that we weren’t able for security and compliance reasons, able to take cash from the casino to the curb.”

What can patrons do at a curbside Las Vegas sportsbook?

Customers have three services available at Circa’s curbside:

  • Registration and funding.
  • Funding of existing accounts.
  • Registration for other events such as its Circa Sports Million II or Circa Survivor contests.

(Services are similar at the William Hill and South Point).

“That has certainly been very, very helpful,” Benson said. “The reason that we’re doing the drive-through functionality is two-fold. First is because it allows new users to sign up and deposit, whereas with this remote fund funding, people who have never signed up for our app don’t have that luxury.

“And then the other thing is, Play+ functionality does come, in terms of the deposits, with a 3% service fee that is passed along to the consumer. And if you’re doing it, obviously curbside, there is no fee because it’s basically similar to if you were coming into the casino and depositing at the counter.

According to press releases, Circa’s curb will be open for business from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST daily. South Point’s location will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. William Hill opened five locations for limited service preceding UFC 249.

“Ahead of the largest sporting events of the month, we wanted a safe way to meet the current demand from our customers,” CEO Joe Asher said in a press release.

William Hill offered a $65 bonus for bets for new and existing mobile customers.

How this Las Vegas sportsbook project came together

Benson said his company’s valet service at Golden Gate Hotel & Casino on Fremont Street was enacted quickly from its germ as an idea he discussed with sportsbook director Matt Melcalf. They saw it formalized in three days by a compliance team and pitched to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Circa has kept its risk room and mobile app operating during the shutdown mandated by Gov. Steve Sisolak while numerous others have gone dormant in the state. Circa’s launched was enabled by a new online payment system it brought online last month.

Bet MGM, Caesars, Circa and William Hill are the online sportsbooks currently operating.

“I kind of touched on the idea of doing curbside services once. A lot of these other restaurants started to do it, and I’ve seen how successful they were with it,” Benson said. “Then, obviously, there were a couple of other places, William Hill and South Point, who did curbside services as well.

“So, for us, it was just a combination of our management team coming up with this idea and giving our patrons another funding mechanism – especially new patrons given that there’s no remote registration here in Nevada. … It’s just something that given some of the antiquated sports betting laws here in the state and that remote registration isn’t possible.”



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Gambling News

The Las Vegas Raiders Are Official, Plus A Peek At The Sin City-based NFL Draft

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The NFL is about to make a significant impact on Las Vegas, and the Raiders moving to town is only the beginning.

The Raiders team, formerly located in Oakland and Los Angeles, is moving to their new home in the Silver State.

A recent media announcement revealed the NFL team is now called the Las Vegas Raiders. The team recently updated its Twitter page to reflect the change.

This shift may not seem like a big deal, but it’s just the beginning of the NFL movement in Las Vegas. The Raiders will kick off its inaugural 2020 season in Vegas, along with the rest of the league.

The Raiders’ debut remains on schedule despite a delay with the installation of a translucent roof at Allegiant Stadium

Don Webb, the Las Vegas Stadium Co.’s chief operating officer, said the installation of the roof should be finished in May instead of April.

NFL Draft in Las Vegas

Image courtesy of Clark County Nevada.
Image courtesy of Clark County Nevada.

The NFL will invade Las Vegas months before the Raiders play their first game. 

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is expecting nearly 750,000 people in Sin City for the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23-25. Expect numerous events from interactive games to autograph sessions.

For comparison, last year’s draft in Nashville saw 600,000 people during the three-day event.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the LVCVA is estimating that each of the first two days of the NFL Draft will bring upwards of 350,000 people to The Strip. 

In contrast, New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days in Las Vegas, and it’s estimated that 300,000 visitors attended the celebration.

The draft will likely create havoc on the Vegas Strip. Las Vegas Boulevard will be closed at Flamingo. Visitors can walk between the red carpet stage at the Bellagio fountains and the main draft and NFL experience behind The Linq (next to the new Caesars Forum conference center).

Las Vegas Raiders, MGM and Allegiant Stadium all partner

MGM Resorts recently announced deals with both the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium. MGM is now an official gaming partner of the Raiders. The largest casino operator on the Vegas Strip is also a “founding partner” of Allegiant Stadium.

MGM Resorts will have close ties to the Raiders and Allegiant Stadium. 

The deals will make MGM Resort’s casinos in Las Vegas an official home of Raiders’ pre-game and post-game parties. The bulk of the gatherings should take place at Mandalay Bay and Luxor since the two casinos are walking distance to the stadium.

Raiders president Marc Badain said, “MGM Resorts is an institution in the gaming and hospitality industry and the activations they have planned for Raider games.” 

Specific plans for MGM Resorts and the Las Vegas Raiders aren’t known yet. However, MGM Resorts’ sports betting app will launch in Nevada before the NFL Draft and season begin, according to Legal Sports Report

There should be plenty of opportunities for special Raiders-themed promotions.

MGM Resorts is the second Las Vegas casino operator to become a founding partner of Allegiant Stadium. In 2019, Caesars signed a similar deal with Allegiant Stadium. MGM Resorts will have signage, special entrances and a VIP club.

MGM Club, at Allegiant Stadium, will offer an ultra-exclusive experience with a full-service premium bar, luxury lounge and upgraded stadium seating to watch the game. 

Together, these deals will give MGM Resorts access to former and current Raiders players.

Allegiant Stadium will be more than Las Vegas Raiders football

The Raiders were the catalyst behind building Allegiant Stadium; however, the venue will offer more to Las Vegas. 

MGM Resorts will receive maximum exposure during events. AEG, the facilities manager, expects 46 events per year at Allegiant Stadium.

The Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV football games will occupy 16 of those 46 events. Some events that may have taken place at Boyd Stadium in the past will choose the new venue near the Strip. 

Additionally, the state-of-the-art stadium will likely be a tour stop for the artists popular enough to perform at a 65,000+ capacity venue.

Billboard says Motley CrüeTaylor Swift and Kenny Chesney all have stadium tour stops in Los Angeles, but not in Vegas. The music industry trade magazine also postulates that Allegiant Stadium could be home to future Las Vegas residencies.

The Raiders moving to Las Vegas is about more than just eight regular-season games.



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From The Raiders To New Casinos, Here Are Las Vegas’ 5 Big 2020 Happenings

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One of the great things about Las Vegas is that it is always changing. Sin City has truly evolved from only being a gambling destination. Non-gaming revenue has been greater than gambling revenue on the Vegas Strip since 1999.

People visiting Las Vegas have been spending more money on food, beverage, hotel rooms, etc. than on casino games for years. This isn’t exactly news and Las Vegas continues to change its business model to attract visitors seeking a variety of experiences.

Additionally, gamblers in just about every region of the country now live within driving distance of a casino. While they serve one need for gamblers, they don’t always offer everything a casino guest could want. Las Vegas casinos have big shows and residencies, the finest dining in the country, luxurious spas, and great mixologists for the drinkers.

But not everyone who visits Las Vegas comes for fun. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), 8% of visitors to Las Vegas last year were in town for a convention or meeting. These guests have a different purpose and spend money differently.

Only 41% of convention visitors gamble when visiting Las Vegas. Las Vegas is improving convention facilities at a rapid pace to draw more of these visitors because they bring greater revenue for the non-gaming areas in Las Vegas Casinos.

The same report from the LVCVA shows that leisure travelers spend $272.68 on food and drink while convention guests spend $427.07 drinking and dining. Similarly, nearly 90% of convention guests pay a negotiated full convention rate. That’s quite a difference from leisure travelers. Only about two-thirds of vacationers pay regular room rates.

Las Vegas will continue to be a great place to visit for work and play. Developments in 2020 will help ensure that stays the case with new casinos, renovated properties and better convention facilities. Oh yeah, people live in Las Vegas and there’s a little something coming to town that should become a local favorite.

1. Say hello to the Las Vegas Raiders

The Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. The team brings along more than just eight regular-season home games to Las Vegas. This move is much more significant.

One of the keys to having the Raiders move to Las Vegas was building a new state-of-the-art football stadium near the Vegas Strip. The Raiders and Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee have teamed up to build Allegiant Stadium.

This 65,000 seat venue will be home more than just Raiders home games. The venue will also host a variety of sports and non-sports events thanks to a facilities management deal with AEG Worldwide. The company says they should have no problem filling the stadium for 46 events.

Allegiant Stadium will also become the home of UNLV football and the Pac 12 football championship game for the next two years. The Runnin’ Rebels previously played home games at Boyd Stadium. As the stadium nears completion in the summer of 2020, expect to hear announcements for concerts and other events after the newest venue in Las Vegas opens.

After the Raiders announced the move to Las Vegas, the NFL selected Las Vegas to host the NFL Draft. The event will take place in Las Vegas from April 23-25, 2020. Draft headquarters will be at the new Caesars Forum convention center behind Harrah’s. The location isn’t much of a surprise as the Caesars is the NFL’s first casino partner.

While much of the activity surrounding the Raiders will take place on or near the Vegas Strip, the team will actually touch the local market with its headquarters in Henderson. The Las Vegas Raiders will become a major part of the landscape for years to come.

2. Everything at Circa Resort & Casino

Casino developer Derek Stevens introduced his latest casino project, Circa Resort & Casino, in January of 2019. Stevens currently owns and operates The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate casinos. Circa will be his third downtown Las Vegas property when it opens in December 2020 in downtown Las Vegas.

Construction on Circa is bucking trends in Las Vegas in many ways. The casino is on budget and construction appears to be on schedule to open before the year is over. (Unfortunately, not every Las Vegas casino construction has stayed on time and on budget: Resorts World Las Vegas broke ground in 1995 and has been pushed back multiple times. It’s now slated to open in the summer of 2021.)

Another difference between Circa and other “new” Las Vegas casinos is that this is new construction. Park MGM, the newest casino in Las Vegas, is an update of an old casino named Monte Carlo. Circa will be the first new casino build in downtown Las Vegas since 1980.

The plans for Circa are massive. There will be 1.25 million square feet of amenities including:

  • A three-level sportsbook with the world’s sportsbook video screen and broadcast studios
  • Multilevel pool deck amphitheater with six pools that will be open all year round
  • A rejuvenating Spa
  • Casino on two floors
  • 777 hotel rooms and suites
  • Numerous restaurants

Circa Resort & Casino will be the tallest building north of the Vegas Strip. The property will be unlike any other in downtown Las Vegas. The pool and sportsbook will make the property a destination instead of a property visited just because it’s in a mall of casinos.

Stevens does a great job of combining classic Las Vegas service with modern amenities. Circa should be the pinnacle of this experience with great dining, gambling, drinking, a spa, and hotel rooms.

3. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

The Hard Rock will close after the Super Bowl to make way for new casino and hotel operators in Las Vegas. Unlike other recent casino renovations at Park MGM and Palms, the property won’t be open during 10 months of construction. Once the renovation is complete in December 2020, the property will reopen as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Virgin will operate the hotel while Mohegan Gaming will operate the casino. These two companies bring a fresh look to Las Vegas. Virgin Hotels famously doesn’t attach fees to its rooms and could open a hotel in Las Vegas without parking and resort fees.

In addition, its hotels in Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas offer complimentary WiFi. This would be a welcome addition to Las Vegas which has gotten a little fee happy in recent years.

Mohegan Gaming operates casinos all over the world, except Las Vegas. Virgin will be its first Las Vegas casino. The company offers fair gaming rules at its properties. Mohegan also has a different sportsbook partner than existing Las Vegas casinos.

The new property will also introduce a new casino loyalty club: Mohegan’s Momentum. The hotel will be a part of the Virgin Hotels loyalty club called “The Know.” Finally, the hotel will be part of the Hilton Curio collection. There will be many ways to earn and use rewards at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas should bring a new way of operating a casino-resort to Sin City. The potential of a property opening with no fees, fair gaming, multiple loyalty/rewards partners, new food and beverage partners should be exciting for those looking for a different experience

4. A new Circus Circus

MGM Resorts announced the sale of Circus Circus to Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin in October. The sale is complete and changes are already underway.

Since MGM Resorts no longer owns the property, they won’t be operating the sportsbook. William Hill is operating the sportsbook at Circus Circus. After the Super Bowl, they will renovate the sportsbook by updating the viewing screens, seating, and more in time for the first weekend of March Madness.

The main casino and Slots-A-Fun will be renovated but changes are already underway. Ruffin has already introduced improved gaming conditions that Treasure Island guests might be familiar with. There are now $10 3:2 blackjack games and craps odds have been upgraded to 3x-4x-5x from 2x. Circus Circus also removed MGM’s triple zero roulette game.

Major changes coming to Circus Circus include the closure of the only RV Park on the Vegas Strip. In its place, Ruffin plans to add a massive pool complex similar to Mandalay Bay Beach. He’s also planning on adding a new 2,000 seat theater to Circus Circus. This theater could be home to a new Cirque du Soleil show.

MGM also sold Ruffin 35 acres of land that most recently the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. Ruffin plans on developing this land with a partner. He previously said a family entertainment center could be built here.

The future is bright for Circus Circus as Ruffin plans to renovate the casino floor but not the rooms. This will keep room prices down as the property looks to find new customers. The rooms will be upgraded in the future but the goal is to keep Circus Circus an affordable family destination in Las Vegas.

5. Las Vegas convention expansions

As noted earlier, those visiting Las Vegas for conventions and meetings tend to spend more money on food, beverage, and hotel rooms than those visiting on vacation. It’s no surprise that the casino-resort operators are looking to attract more of these customers.

In 2018, MGM Resorts was ahead of the curve by expanding or improving many of its convention facilities. Not only is Las Vegas expanding its convention center but two casino operators are opening new facilities.

Wynn Resorts canceled its massive Paradise Park expansion in 2018. However, they kept one part of the plan. Instead of offering new amenities to a different customer, Wynn Las Vegas will continue to focus on its high-end guests. It will open a brand new convention and meeting space in February 2020.

Likewise, Caesars Entertainment is wrapping construction on the Caesars Forum as the new year begins. The new convention center is located behind Harrah’s and is a short walk to The Linq, Flamingo, and Caesars Palace. The increase in conventions should bring more convention customers to Caesars’ properties.

The expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center is creating the Convention Center District. The massive 1.4 million square foot phase of the expansion will be open by the Consumer Electronics Show in 2021. The footprint is so big that they’re building an underground people mover to transport convention guests around the huge convention space.



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