Las Vegas is back in business, but new safety rules could call in the chips for Sin City’s party reputation

After two months of empty blackjack tables and silent slot machines, the bright casino lights of Las Vegas are starting to flicker back on.

But with a string of new safety rules and regulations set up in response to the Covid-19 crisis, could Sin City be about to lose its devil-may-care image?

A glimpse of the future can be found in a new safety plan unveiled by one of Las Vegas’s biggest players, MGM Resorts International, which operates a number of casinos and hotels on the famous Strip, including the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage.

The seven-point plan reveals that Plexiglass barriers at gaming tables and handwashing stations on the casino floors will become standard as punters start to return.

The number of players allowed at games will be reduced to six players at craps tables and three at blackjack, while onlookers will be discouraged from standing too close to the action.

Every other slot machine will be taken out of service to allow users to keep a safe distance from one another, and all food buffets will be suspended.

Thermal imaging cameras will be set up at the entrance, and any new arrival with temperature over 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Farenheit) will be turned away and advised to seek medical advice.

Those who make it through the initial screening will be provided with a pack containing hand sanitiser, face masks and gloves which staff will “strongly encourage” them to use.

 “Our properties will not look the way they used to for a while, and that’s not only okay, it’s critically important,” said MGM’s acting president and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle.

“We will continue providing the hospitality experiences we are known for, but we must do so safely.”

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Onlookers will be ‘encouraged’ to keep their distance from the gaming tables

Credit:
getty

Around 35 Las Vegas casinos are now accepting reservations for May 22 onwards, just in time for Memorial Day, a federal holiday which takes place on May 25.

Many will only admit reduced numbers to help with social distancing– the Bellagio for one has announced that it will run at roughly a quarter of normal capacity.

A number of restaurants are also starting to reopen, although it could be a while before the city sees the return of its famous entertainment scene – all shows have been cancelled until further notice, as have the city’s nightclubs.

But with even as Las Vegas swings back into life, it is likely to be a while before the party atmosphere really returns.

Domestic air travel is all but grounded in the US, and with the casinos largely reliant on trade from those driving in from the rest of Nevada and Southern California as a result, the bright light city won’t be setting many souls on fire for the foreseeable future.