Las Vegas to reopen casinos, stage combat sports

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The city of Las Vegas has been given the green light to partially resume its sports and gaming industries after Nevada governor Steve Sisolak announced that the state’s casinos can reopen on June 4.

Sisolak has also included live sporting events without fans in Phase Two of the state’s reopening process.

Nevada’s gaming business has been shut down since March 18 when Sisolak suspended all operations in an attempt to stem the spread of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

With air travel largely shut down and still widespread fears about the ongoing health crisis, it remains unclear how many people will visit these casinos in the coming weeks.

It is believed that hotel-casinos will make rooms available on an incremental basis, while numerous financial offers are expected to be made to try to entice gamblers to come to the city, such as free parking and no resort fees.

Derek Stevens, the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate co-owner, announced he is giving away 1,000 one-way flights to Las Vegas from 24 US cities. Flights are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and participants are not obliged to stay at any of Stevens’ properties.

MGM Resorts International announced that the Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand Las Vegas, and The Signature will all open on June 4. Employees will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks to return to work, while guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks, which will be offered free of charge.

Among numerous other health and safety initiatives, a physical distancing policy will be implemented – such as stools in front of every other gaming machine – while plexiglass barriers will also be installed to reduce risks.

Elsewhere, the Nevada Athletic Commission unanimously agreed to allow two Ultimate Fighting Championship events and two Top Rank boxing cards in Las Vegas over the next two weeks.

UFC announced that it will stage UFC Fight Night and the UFC 250 pay-per-view event at the UFC Apex on May 30 and June 6, respectively. Spectators will not be allowed in attendance.

The mixed martial arts organization has already made its return to live competition, with three events in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month.

“Throughout this process, we’ve been working hand in glove with the UFC,” NAC executive director Bob Bennett said. “I’m aware of their operations plan and everything is moving forward based on their operations plan and our protocols.”

The NAC also approved two Top Rank boxing events, on June 9 and June 11, which will take place at the MGM Grand, also without spectators.

“The UFC, like Top Rank, has been very aggressive, creative and enthusiastic about providing the best operational plan possible to make the environment as safe as possible. Now we just have to carry that out,” Bennett added.

Further UFC and boxing events are expected in Las Vegas in the coming weeks while the city is considered a favorite to become one of the National Hockey League’s two “hub cities” in its planned expanded 24-team playoffs this summer.