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Las Vegas Reopening Is Up To Officials As Hotels And Casinos Get Prepared

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State and local officials will announce when the official Las Vegas reopening will happen but hotels and casinos are preparing to open their doors in time for the summer season. 

When will travelers be able to slide $20 bills into a slot machine, feast at a celebrity restaurant or see a show in Las Vegas again?

MGM Resorts, operator of a dozen properties in the gambling and entertainment capital, can't answer that question because the decision rests in the hands of state and local officials weighing when to lift coronavirus restrictions.

Las Vegas Strip at night

A first glimpse of a Las Vegas Reopening

on the company's quarterly earnings conference call Thursday, executives did provide the first glimpse of what visitors can expect from the chain when Las Vegas reopens.

MGM won't open all its hotels at once, but rather start with two or three targeted at different traveler budgets, acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said.

On the list right now: New York-New York Hotel & Casino, a midprice hotel on the south end of the Strip with a roller coaster, arcade and Irish pub, and Bellagio, a swank mid-Strip resort that is home to the famous fountain show, high-end shops and restaurants, a conservatory and a museum.

New York New York Las Vegas Reopening
New York - New York in Las Vegas will be one of MGM's first hotels to open

“Then from there we're talking about what other properties should open, if any, at that point in time,” he said. “We'll go slow. We'll be responsive and responsible.”

MGM also doesn't plan to open all the restaurants at each hotel. Some will be open and there will be takeout food and beverage options, as well, he said.

Las Vegas Hotel check-in and room cleaning will look different on reopening

MGM, like its competitors and most consumer businesses hoping to rebound post-pandemic, is crafting plans to make sure guests feel safe about visiting.

“Getting these properties up and operating and doing it in a safe manner for both our employees and guests is priority one,” Hornbuckle said.

At check-in and elsewhere around the hotel, guests will find new  “touchless” technology.

Mgm Grand 7 point plan

There will be more stringent cleaning and sanitizing policies, especially in guest rooms.

“The protocol to clean a room in this environment is going to be intensive,” Hornbuckle said.

He said it's likely that some travelers will decline daily room cleaning during their stay, at least initially.

“If I'm a guest in Bellagio, I want to know that my room is pristine when I go in,” he said. “And during my stay, unless I want and need clean towels, I'm probably not going to let a guest-room attendant or other service personnel in my room.”

Social distancing in Casinos upon reopening

In the casino, visitors will find more space between slot machines and gaming tables.  MGM is installing new carpet in its Park MGM and Aria casino hotels, Hornbuckle said, and is using that time to space things out.

“So the environment will feel a little different when people walk in from Day 1,” he said.

Casino slot machines will be distanced in las vegas upon reopening
Casino slot machines will no longer be placed side by side as shown above and will allow for social distancing

Does anyone want to return to Las Vegas so soon?

MGM officials said they are optimistic there's a pool of people itching to return to Las Vegas as soon as it is open. 

One key reason: About half of visitors drive to Vegas rather than fly and peak summer vacation season looms.

“We do think there'll be some pent-up demand,” Hornbuckle said.

What the chain doesn't want, though, is a repeat of what happened in California when the beaches reopened last weekend, only to have the governor close some again in response to large crowds.

las Vegas Boulevard sign

Among the first people expected to return: gamblers who receive generous offers to stay at the hotels. Bookings are strong for later this year and into next, the company said.

MGM officials said frequent gamblers at high-end resorts like Bellagio are especially anxious to return.

gambling in las vegas will change when reopening

“They were the last to leave when we closed down (in mid-March),” said Corey Sanders, MGM's chief financial officer. “I have a feeling some of them will be back the day they (the hotels) open. So that's positive.”

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