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The Las Vegas strip, one of the most glamorous places in America, turned off its lights on Tuesday after Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered that all nonessential businesses, including restaurants, bars, and casinos, be closed for 30 days in an effort to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The COVID-19 virus has brought the sports world to its knees with major leagues suspending all activity until government officials can get an understanding on how long this pandemic will last around the globe.
The governor’s order covered all slot machines and table games to end by midnight on Tuesday with all hotels and casinos shutting their doors by noon on Wednesday.
“My ultimate goal here is to come to gather as Nevadans to save lives,” Sisolak said.
“That requires aggressive strategies aimed at mitigating community spread (of COVID-19). Medical professionals have made it abundantly clear that there is no treatment. While a vaccine is being developed, we don’t have time to waste. At this time, we must act aggressively and decisively to protect ourselves, our families and our community.”
The announcement was anticlimactic for some locations on the strip as casinos like all MGM casinos, the Wynn, Venetian and Cosmopolitan all announced temporary closures in the last few days.
Although all American sports have been suspended, there are still soccer, rugby and smaller events happening in other areas of the world and the sportsbooks in Nevada were still taking action on those few games.
At DraftKings, for example, the website is offering wagers on New Zealand rugby, Turkish, Russian, and Ukraine soccer and plenty of football and baseball futures bets. Although DraftKings does not operate in Nevada, the action was similar on mobile apps in the state that are not affected by the closures.
Vegas sportsbooks have been reeling over the past ten days as the cancellation of the lucrative Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament coupled with the suspension of the NBA and NHL have placed a significant dent in the expected revenue totals for March.
Last March, more than $500 million was bet on March Madness and that handle gave the casinos a take-home revenue of over $36.5 million.
The statewide closure of casinos in Nevada is a first for the state although casinos have been closed from time to time due to regulatory issues.
“Did you ever think you’d see so many major casinos literally closing in Las Vegas?” Joe Asher, CEO of prominent sportsbook operator William Hill US, told ESPN. “It’s unprecedented. Hopefully, we get to brighter days sooner rather than later.”
After 30 days, Gov. Sisolak will reassess the order and either allow casinos to open or keep them closed indefinitely. As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases soar in the United States despite a complete lack of testing, the future of sports and sports betting in America is a huge question mark with no answer in sight.
If Gov. Sisolak approves a reopening after 30 days, the casinos will reopen on April 17th.
No, not all casinos are offering mobile betting as some sportsbooks shuttered their apps with the announcement of the closings.
Sportsbooks in Las Vegas are predicting losses that go well into the $45-$55 million range for the 30-day closure.
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