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Las Vegas Goes Dim

In a Las Vegas first, MGM Resorts and other top Strip properties shudder their doors against the fast-moving virus

Las Vegas is known for its resilience. In the wake of a mass shooting in October 2017, the people who make Las Vegas tick banded together for a “Las Vegas Strong” approach to the lurid events. The city ticked on and no properties shut down. After the events of 9/11, air space emptied, the nation stood still, but Las Vegas ticked on – working to service the guests who were stuck in the neon limbo – and no properties closed.

Today, as the world battles an enemy it cannot see and a mean microbe plays havoc with life as we know it, airlines are being brought to their knees, and Las Vegas hotels are shutting down.

In an announcement made this weekend, while store shelves emptied and airports turned into ghost towns, MGM Resorts International announced its decision to temporarily suspend operations at its Las Vegas properties until further notice, effective as of Tuesday, March 17th.  Casino operations will close today, followed by hotel operations.    

“As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified in the United States over the past week, the people of MGM Resorts have worked to try to find a way to continue delivering high quality hospitality and entertainment experiences for our guests while keeping our employees doing the jobs they love in a safe environment.  

“Welcoming people from around the world is what we do, and our employees have tremendous pride in their work.  Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts in a statement. “This is a time of uncertainty across our country and the globe and we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus. We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it safe to do so.”

MGM Resorts includes Bellagio, CityCenter, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York, Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena.

Reports of employees at Wet Republic and Luxor contracting the contagion may have spurred the move. But the doors are also shutting at Wynn and Encore. Wynn Resorts will close its two luxury hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip for two weeks starting Tuesday.  

Sands Corporation properties — the Venetian and the Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip – so far intend to remain open. Caesars Entertainment, which includes Harrah’s, The LINQ, Rio, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s, Flamingo, and The Cromwell will remain open as well. However, the company Caesars is shutting all of its Las Vegas entertainment performances through March 31. Among the headliners and shows affected are Shania Twain, Rod Stewart, Wayne Newton, Dionne Warwick, Righteous Brothers. Tape Face, Criss Angel and Penn & Teller.

Following the events of 9/11, visitation to Las Vegas in September 2001 was down 14.1 percent from the previous year. Convention attendance dived 37.4 percent, according to numbers published by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. It took six more years for the hotel occupancy rate to recover and surpass its pre-9/11 numbers.