Can visitors resist throwing caution to the wind in Las Vegas? By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports June 10, 2020 at 8:00 pm I hit the Las Vegas Strip during Thursday’s reopening at several mega-resort casinos as part of CDC Gaming Reports’ team coverage. It was an intriguing blend of the familiar and the foreign. Most of the visitors I interviewed said they felt similarly – anxious and yet anticipating – but to a person, they all related the same message: They’ve really missed their Vegas. And they said they were willing to go along with the new social distancing protocols necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic in order to return to the action. The real question is whether they’ll keep playing by the rules set up for everyone’s benefit. I guess we’ll see. At first glance, credit the industry for embracing the new reality. From Plexiglass to PPE and plentiful social distancing reminders, the new rules have been taken seriously. If appearances matter, the casinos I walked through passed the first test. Here’s the part I liked best from the MGM properties. It’s a sign that read, “Masks are strongly encouraged in all public areas. If riding on elevators with guests outside your travel group, masks are required. If you do not wear a mask, please wait in line for a private elevator. Thank you for your cooperation.” The best sight might have been the line to visit the Conservatory at Bellagio, which was spectacularly dressed up to celebrate Japanese culture. The flower arrangements were breathtaking, but the line calling for social distancing was even more impressive. Almost everyone tried to follow the rules. Almost. So why am I not confident Las Vegas can keep up appearances? A craps table in Las Vegas sees some action when the Strip reopened on June 4/Forbes For starters, Las Vegas wasn’t built for social distancing. It was built for socializing with gamblers huddled around blackjack and craps tables, friends laughing and slapping high fives in the sportsbook, couples elbow to elbow on nightclub dance floors, or sitting in tight rows for sold-out concerts. We don’t minuet much in Las Vegas if you catch my drift. More troubling are the anecdotes that began to emerge within 24 hours of the reopening. Not surprisingly, large groups of revelers blowing off steam and celebrating the reopening weren’t social distancing or wearing masks. Perhaps even more disturbing is the reporting contained in The New York Times that details how in the early stages of the pandemic a person showing symptoms flew across the country to make a speech at a Las Vegas convention and appears to have infected fellow attendees and hotel staff. The infection wasn’t recorded as part of Nevada’s statistics. Which makes this the ideal space to remind health and hotel-casino officials that transparency is the key to maintaining credibility and keeping the public’s shaky confidence that we can socialize without turning Las Vegas into a scene from Stephen King’s The Stand. But for now, the mood is anything but somber. The people I spoke with all had a real affection for Las Vegas. Some were regular video slot players, but others traveled to the Strip for the pool and the food and the chance to see a variety of shows in just a few days. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was reminded that some visitors make multiple trips to Las Vegas. I wish they’d all been wearing masks, but most weren’t. I wish wearing masks was mandated, but it’s not. Although most said they gambled, they all expressed a sense of comfort with staff and the idea that they might see something new around every corner. Because this is their Vegas, and in their Vegas, anything can happen. Anything, I suppose, but too much social distancing. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.