FanDuel Casino Industry News - MGM, Station, Caesars Casinos in Las Vegas at 100 Percent Gaming Capacity


Casinos in Las Vegas have seen restrictions on their capacity come to an end as three of the biggest operators in the city return to 100 percent gaming capacity. This is certainly huge news for the casino industry as it looks to recover following more than a year of COVID-19 bans and restrictions. 

The Nevada Gaming Control Board announced on Wednesday last week that social distancing and floor capacity restrictions were lifted for MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Station casinos. This welcome waiver from the Gaming Control Board took effect immediately in more than two dozen casino properties on the Las Vegas Strip. Since last summer, when the casinos were allowed to reopen, the gaming floor capacity restrictions had been in place.

Timeline of COVID-19 Restrictions for Vegas Casinos

On March 10, 2020, MGM Resorts announced that it had closed its buffets services. The day after, other Las Vegas hotel-casinos began to cancel big events and ceased taking new reservations. A few days later, MGM closed all of its properties as the state of Nevada recorded its first COVID-19 death. 

On May 26, Nevada state governor Steve Sisolak stated that casinos in Vegas would be permitted to reopen in the first week of June. One week and two days after that announcement, on June 4, casinos in Las Vegas valley reopened, almost three months after they had shut down initially. Social distancing and gaming capacity restrictions were imposed and maintained until the turn of the year. 

On March 1, almost one full year after COVID-19 restrictions began, MGM Resorts and other properties in the Strip began full operations. These properties still had to abide by social distancing guidelines, meaning that they could only open at 50% capacity. In the first few days of April, casinos in Las Vegas began to offer employees free vaccines after a memo from the Gaming Control Board stated that casinos had to vaccinate employees before returning to 100 percent capacity. 

Role Vaccination Played in Lifting Gaming Capacity Restrictions

It's safe to say that the Nevada Gaming Control Board has announced the lifting of social distancing restrictions in Vegas casinos because of the increase in the percentage of employee vaccination. At the start of May, the board was authorized to review and determine casino gaming capacities, under the condition that it noticed the casinos put in measurable and material efforts towards vaccinating their workforce.  

Apart from the MGM, Station, and Caesars, some other casinos on the Strip have also been allowed to run their gaming floors at optimum capacity, including the Strat Casino, Silverton, Cosmopolitan, and Wynn Las Vegas.  

However, the gaming control board has mandated that these casinos can only operate at a hundred percent gaming capacity after management has verified that more than 80% of its employees have received COVID vaccinations. Casinos that meet this requirement will be allowed to discard the plastic social distancing barriers at slot machines and table games, though employees and customers will still have to wear masks. The board also announced that non-gaming areas of the resorts, such as pools and restaurants, are still required to operate at 80% capacity and practice social distancing. 

CEO of MGM Resorts, Bill Hornbuckle, is under no illusion as to the role vaccination played in getting them back to 100 percent gaming capacity. “The COVID-19 restrictions being lifted is yet another major milestone in Vegas’ incredible recovery and a testament to the importance of vaccination in the effort to reopen our community fully. We’ll be working to vaccinate as many people as possible and remain vigilant with health and safety protocols designed to protect our guests, employees, and community,” he said.

Casinos Allowed to Reopen

In an obvious defining moment for the casino industry in the quest for things returning to normal, three prominent casino operators on the Strip have been given the green light to open their gaming floors to maximum capacity without social distancing restrictions: the MGM Resorts casinos, Caesars Entertainment casinos, and Station casinos.

MGM Resorts

According to Amanda Belarmino, assistant professor at UNLV’s college of hospitality, the MGM operating at full capacity is a real sign that things are finally returning to normal on the Las Vegas Strip. “MGM has such a huge presence on The Strip that increased capacity for their properties is a signal that we are truly re-open. The full return to the Strip signals a return to Las Vegas providing experiences unlike any other destination in the world,” she said. 

MGM Resorts created free vaccination clinics at its properties as thousands of staff, families, and third-party entertainers were vaccinated. The company also launched a series of internal campaigns aimed at awareness and incentivizing employees to get their vaccines. 

The MGM properties set to have their gaming capacities increased to 100 percent are: 

  • ARIA Resort & Casino
  • MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
  • Bellagio Resort & Casino
  • Park MGM
  • Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
  • The Mirage Hotel & Casino
  • New York-New York Hotel & Casino
  • Luxor Hotel & Casino
  • Excalibur Hotel & Casino

Caesars Entertainment

Caesars provided several COVID-19 vaccination events at its properties to meet the workforce vaccination requirements of the gaming control board. The company’s CEO, Tom Reeg, promised that they would not stop providing incentives and easy access to vaccines for their Las Vegas staff. 

In a statement released on Wednesday, Reegs said, “The expansion to full capacity and the removal of social distancing on our gaming floors in Las Vegas is a result of the commitment of our team members to doing their part to put us all on the road to recovery. This shift is encouraging, but we understand that the battle is not yet won, and it is through a continued commitment to health and safety that Las Vegas can most quickly rebound.”

The Caesars Entertainment properties now operating at 100 percent gaming capacity are:

  • Caesars Palace Las Vegas
  • Bally’s Las Vegas
  • Flamingo Las Vegas
  • Paris Las Vegas
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas
  • The Cromwell
  • The LINQ Hotel + Experience
  • Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
  • Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

Station Casinos  

Back in early April, Station Casinos opened vaccination centers in all of its properties in Las Vegas; between then and now, the company said it has vaccinated an overwhelming percentage of its workforce. The company said that vaccination efforts, reward, and awareness programs will continue right into the summer. 

Three properties belonging to Station Casino have remained closed since March 2020, when casinos in Vegas were shut down initially. Those properties are Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Fiesta Henderson, managed by Red Rock Resorts Inc., a publicly traded company that owns a part of Station Casinos.

The Station Casino properties that can now operate at full capacity are:

  • Palace Station
  • Boulder Station
  • Sunset Station
  • Santa Fe Station
  • Red Rock Resort
  • Green Valley Ranch

Restrictions on Non-gaming areas

Non-casino spots in the properties listed above are still bound by 80% capacity restrictions and 3-feet social distancing rules. These areas include restaurants, gyms, and pools. Lawmakers in the Clark County region have agreed to approve 100 percent occupancy for these non-gaming areas as soon as 60% of the county’s total eligible population (16 years and older) get complete COVID-19 vaccine shots. As of a week ago, that number stood at 47%, according to data gotten from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S Census Bureau. 

Improvement in Las Vegas Tourism Numbers

2020 saw Las Vegas record its worst tourist numbers since 1989. According to official data, the visitor volume for 2020 was 19.03 million, a massive 55.2% drop from 2019’s volume. Those numbers have picked up in 2021, thanks to the widespread rollout of vaccines and eased lockdown rules. In March alone, over 2.2 million visitors were at the Las Vegas Strip in a significant increase in February’s 1.5 million visitor volume. 

For the first time since COVID-19 hit the US, gaming floors in the Las Vegas Valley are back to maximum operational capacity, and there is no doubt that this positive update will see a spike in tourism numbers in the region. The world-famous Vegas casino industry is now well and truly on the road back to normalcy.

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