Can Las Vegas and Atlantic City Recover From The COVID-19 pandemic?

Since March of 2020, the United States has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadly virus has claimed over 525,000 lives, with more than 29 million people testing positive in the country. Businesses have suffered from temporary and permanent closures, with the entertainment and hospitality industries among the hardest hit.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City are gambling towns that rely on tourism and require casino gaming and other entertainment, along with hotel stays and dining to survive.

When 2021 began, officials in both cities were hopeful. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is pushing safety measures as a way to ramp up tourism in Sin City. Virus regulations are currently being lifted, but protections are still in place to help casinos and hotels get back to some sense of normalcy.

In Atlantic City, a recent survey involving the casino industry gives operators hope that there will be a change in tourism levels. The Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT) of Stockton University recently revealed the findings of a study where over 70% of those questioned stated they had plans to visit Atlantic City in the next six months.

Will Tourism Levels Increase?

In Las Vegas, Governor Sisolak is basically telling everyone, come to Las Vegas; it’s safe! He is pushing the city’s safety regulations to help travelers feel comfortable coming to the gambling mecca. The goal is to bring back the conventions and trade shows, a major driver for the local economy.

Just this week, the governor adjusted the minimum distance between performers and audience members for shows in Las Vegas. That change will allow some entertainment options to get back to work after being shut down for months.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Sisolak said that Nevada would be the safest place to visit as a tourist or host a convention. The governor pointed out that vaccinations will continue in the region, and the number of positive cases will continue to lessen.

Currently, federal health officials are asking states to avoid relaxing mitigation measures connected to COVID-19 because the pandemic is not over. However, governors in certain states like Texas have lifted mask mandates along with capacity restrictions.

Fortunately for Nevada, Governor Sisolak used Texas as an example of what not to do. He pointed out that he saw a picture of a basketball game in Texas full of people, and no one was wearing a mask. The governor talked about how this was not going to work, and if he were going to take a vacation with his family, he would travel to a location where he would feel safe, Nevada, for example.

In Las Vegas, visitors must still wear a mask, and social distancing protocols along with cleaning and sanitization efforts remain in place. These efforts and the lowering number of positive cases are why Governor Sisolak feels comfortable easing some restrictions.

Should Atlantic City Expect More Player Traffic?

Like Las Vegas, Atlantic City has experienced a decrease in player traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey casinos are operational but at a lower capacity than usual. Player traffic numbers have been on the decline for the past year, with city officials and operators hopeful that the coming months will see a shift in a positive direction.

And that may be the case according to a new study by LIGHT. On Monday, the organization reported that over 70% of the more than 800 people surveyed would visit the city in the next six months. The survey reviewed people who had visited the ‘Do AC’ site back in February.

According to the results, more than 80% of previous visitors plan to go back in the next six months. Lead researcher on the project, Phil Kening, said that those who visited after the casinos reopened felt safe due to the venues’ precautions amidst the pandemic.

The individuals who had not visited the city said that it was due to COVID-19. However, since the onset of the virus, visitors to casinos have said they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely satisfied’ with the precautions in place.

LIGHT coordinator, Jane Bokunewicz, said that the casinos, dining, and entertainment venues had done well to implement safety measures for COVID-19 while continuing to provide a quality experience that visitors have come to expect.

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