Wynn And Encore Become First Las Vegas Strip Casinos To Operate At 100% Capacity Since Covid-19


The plexiglass dividers between seats at table games and slot machines that have become part of the gambling experience since casinos reopened at limited capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic are coming down at the Wynn and Encore properties on the Las Vegas Strip.

Wynn Resorts’ two Vegas properties can now operate its casino floors at 100% capacity, the first casino operator to do so in Sin City, the company said late Monday.

Wynn Las Vegas was granted permission by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to amend its occupancy and physical distancing requirements after proving that 88% of its employees have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Our employees and guests will continue to follow health and safety guidelines, including mask compliance, to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for all,” a Wynn Resorts spokesperson said in a statement.

In January, the convention center at Wynn’s Encore property was used as a vaccination site, which served the community. The company also provided vaccines to its employees and spent $250 million to ensure they all got paid during the government-mandated shutdown.

Nevada’s Governor Steve Sisolak said that he’d like the whole state to reach 100% capacity by June. Last weekend, the state eased restrictions across all casino floors in Las Vegas from 50% to 80% capacity.

It’s unclear if other casinos on the Strip received permission to operate at 100% capacity. MGM, Las Vegas Sands and Caesars did not respond to request for comment.

Michael Lawton of the Nevada Gaming Control Board would not say whether other casinos have been granted permission to increase capacity. Companies can lobby the Board to ease restrictions if they prove that they’ve taken concrete steps to vaccinate their employees.

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Wynn’s move to 100% gaming floor capacity, while not earth-shattering, is a welcome development on the Strip. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a crushing blow to casino operators. While there are positive signs of revenue growth, a full recovery is still years away, Colin Mansfield, an analyst from Fitch Ratings, said.

In March, casinos on the tourist-reliant Strip recorded revenues of just over $500 million, which is still down 9.1% from March 2019. (The revenues are up 67% from the same time last year.) Fitch is predicting Las Vegas won’t fully recover until 2024.

Local casinos, however, are on fire. Five casino districts across Nevada that don’t rely on air-travel, mid-week business travel and tourists, but instead rely on local gamblers and people who drive-in from California, recorded all-time monthly revenue records in March, including Downtown Las Vegas, Elko County and the Carson Valley Area.



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