Will Nevada Face The Pandemic’s Greatest Impact?

The pandemic has impacted Nevada’s labor force more than any other state in the country, and it could continue to disrupt the Las Vegas economy years into the future.

Casinos, among other businesses, are getting ready to partially reopen — but how eager will Americans be to travel by plane, dance in an entertainment venue or get a set of dice from a person they don’t know?

Tourism powers the economy in Clark County, which encompasses the legendary Las Vegas Strip — although Nevada also has some other sectors, such as farming and mining. One study held for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority cited by The Wall Street Journal found that visitors spend over $30 billion each year in southern Nevada.

But in New Jersey, the state’s large wager on online gaming has paid off, as revenues jumped to a record $80 million in April. Sports gambling revenues were way down, as stadiums stayed shuttered and most professional games were called off because of coronavirus limitations. Although the state’s casinos remained shuttered, online gambling platforms in states including New Jersey saw heightened revenue, a trend that could stay in place even after the health crisis.

In Nevada, however, the hospitality sector has been hit hard, with over 122,200 leisure and hospitality employees losing their jobs in April. Employment levels in the space have fallen to figures last experienced almost 30 years ago, The Nevada Independent reported.

But 25.6 percent of consumers have no interest in leaving their homes more often than they do today, per PYMNTS data, while only 3.6 percent of consumers rank traveling within the U.S. as their top priority for going back to normal. They are also seven times more afraid of dying from COVID-19 than losing their employment or wealth, and have yet to be convinced that the benefits of reentering the physical world outweigh the perceived risks to their health.

As it announced its reopening plansCaesars Entertainment Corporation said that Flamingo Las Vegas and Caesars Palace will provide lodging, dining options, and access to outdoor pools beyond slot machines and table games. Some offerings like live entertainment, bars and buffets would not immediately reopen, per news at the time.

Las Vegas, however, is wagering that with social distancing limitations in effect, gamblers will return to its famous casinos. But Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said in a published report that Las Vegas casinos are “the kinds of settings where I think you have more risk, where you have a lot of people crowding together, coming and going in indoor settings for sustained periods of time.”

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