Baltimore Sun

Las Vegas casinos are ready to roll dice again

- By Ken Ritter

LAS VEGAS — Free parking, but no valet service. Bartenders, blackjack dealers and waiters wearing masks. Hand sanitizer everywhere.

Tourists returning to Las Vegas will see changes since gambling stopped in midMarch for the first time ever to stem the spread of the coronaviru­s.

The stakes could not be higher, said Robert Lang, executive director of the Brookings Mountain West think tank at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Las Vegas can never be known as the place where people go and get sick,” he said.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has not set a restart date, but could at any time. Resort owners have submitted health and safety rules to state regulators in anticipati­on of the end to the shutdown. A workshop with operators and the state Gaming Control Board is set Tuesday.

“We all know what we’ve gone through for the last 10 weeks. No one’s having fun,” said Bill Hornbuckle, acting chief executive and president of casino giant MGMResorts Internatio­nal. “The simple idea that I could get out, come to a resort, lay at a pool, enjoy a nice dinner, sit at a blackjack table. There’s something to be said for all of that.”

Many properties have aimed for a June 1 restart in the gambling mecca closed almost overnight in the middle of a hot streak — three consecutiv­e $1 billion months in statewide casino winnings. The city had been drawing more than 40 million annual visitors.

Once given the green light, the marquees and the managers will welcome people back to this 24/7 town. But not every resort will be open. Nightclubs, dayclubs and large venues will remain closed.

Signs everywhere will remind guests of new rules: Wash your hands; keep distance from others; limit your elevator ride to four people.

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