Nevada’s governor has ordered a month-long closure of the state’s casinos and other non-essential businesses like bars and cinemas, as part of efforts to contain the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Such closures are in effect from 11.59pm on Tuesday local time, stated the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The regulator said in a statement on Tuesday that the temporary suspension covered “all gaming devices, machines, tables, games, and any equipment related to gaming activity.” Such restriction “remains in effect for 30 days from the time and date it becomes effective, subject to further notice,” it added.
At a news conference on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada governor Steve Sisolak said “additional steps” had to be “taken immediately in order to slow the spread of this deadly virus.” He added: “We absolutely must take this step for every Nevadan’s health and safety.”
Nevada had reported more than 50 cases of Covid-19 infection and one death as of Tuesday.
Several U.S.-based casino operators – including MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp and Wynn Resorts Ltd – had already announced the closure of their respective properties at the Las Vegas Strip (pictured). Such closures were to last for at least two weeks, but will now have to be extended until at least mid-April.
The order in Nevada followed similar action by more than 10 other state governors seeking to to mitigate their citizens’ risk of exposure to Covid-19. The business closures are part of federal guidance recommending social distancing.
In Nevada, gambling taxes are second only to sales taxes as a percentage of the state’s annual budget, according to the Associated Press. The leisure and hospitality industry directly employs one in every four workers in the state, and has an economic output of about US$68 billion in Nevada, reported the news agency, citing data from the Nevada Resort Association.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board said additionally that – in conjunction with other departments – it would “continue to monitor the spread of Covid-19, and will issue further notices as appropriate.”
Brokerage Nomura’s Instinet LLC said in Wednesday commentary on U.S. casino firms – prior to Nevada’s announcement: “Operators pay wages through March. Beyond March it will be the role of the federal government to provide liquidity to furloughed workers since public gaming companies cannot absorb the expense indefinitely.”
Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that some casino operators were drawing down credit facilities available to them, in a bid to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, which might have an extended negative affect on the tourism and entertainment industries.
The media outlet said Caesars Entertainment Corp confirmed on Monday that it would tap more than US$1.15 billion from its revolving credit lines, and that MGM Resorts International was planning to draw down as much as US$1.5-billion of its backup loans.
(Updated 9.15am, March 19)
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés