In 2020, land-based casinos all around the world were forced to shut down activities, to comply with lockdowns and social distancing measures imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. After a few months, these venues were authorized to resume operations under severe restrictions, including limited capacity and distancing protocols.
But now, as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccinations increase, several Las Vegas casinos are loosening these restrictions; casino floors are set to return to a 50% occupancy limit and many venues on The Strip returned to 24-hour operations.
In Canada, the Ontario provincial government allowed casinos to reopen, and gambling venues in Alberta are expected to do so by the end of March. European casinos and gambling venues also benefited from the rise in vaccinations, as countries such as Poland already restarted operations. In the United Kingdom, the largest gambling market in Europe, sports betting venues and casinos are expected to reopen in April and May, respectively.
Casinos in Las Vegas had been operating at a limited 25% capacity since November, when they were allowed to increase the occupancy to 35% in February. But Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak recently signed an emergency directive loosening the state’s health restrictions, allowing casinos to increase capacity from 35% to 50%. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, this led to big crowds flooding the Las Vegas Strip and casino floors in the first weekend following the announcement.
Moving a franchise from one city to another is a common occurrence in US sport. That’s what has happened in the NFL this year with the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas. Just how will they get on in their new home?
This isn’t a franchise that is alien to Super Bowl success or moving to a new home. When playing in Oakland, they won two titles and one more after moving to Los Angeles. No one is saying that their first season in Las Vegas is going to see them win the Super Bowl.
The Raiders will play their home fixtures at the brand-new Allegiant Stadium. It’s a great arena, but at present, no fans will be allowed into games due to the ongoing health crisis. It’s good to see the NFL come to Las Vegas, though, and hopefully, it won’t be too long before fans can attend. A weekend of gambling, entertainment, and an NFL game sounds highly appealing.
It has been difficult for me to write about Las Vegas recently. I promised some more posts about the COVID reopenings and I hope to make progress on that soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of my Las Vegas favorites (and places I hope we will be able to visit again soon) in an effort to get the writing flowing again.
Upscale: Bavette’s Steakhouse at Park MGM. When you step inside, you forget that the casino is right outside the door. The food, drinks and service are great (like many of the upscale restaurants), but what makes Bavette’s my favorite is the hidden back bar / back room. It is quieter and makes you feel like you are in a secret, special place.
Catch at Aria and Fleur at Mandalay Bay are both close seconds. The theming at Catch is over the top. Check out the entryway even if you don’t want to go all the way in for some great seafood. I’m big fan of Hubert Keller, so Fleur is a regular stop for me when I’m at that end of the Strip.
If you’re visiting Sin City for the first time, you’re sure to be excited and looking forward to the experience of a lifetime. With casino gambling likely to be top of your list of things to do, it’s worth considering some of the Nevada state laws, so you don’t get in any trouble.
The most apparent and keenly observed law is that you must be over 21 years old to gamble in Las Vegas. In the UK, it is only 18, so if you’re arriving from there expecting to try your luck on the tables or slots machines, you’re going to be disappointed.
The Neon Museum is closed right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they did a great Facebook Live guided tour video of their Lost Vegas exhibit so you can still experience it virtually. You can watch it here.