Most LV gaming, political leaders singing in tune on post-pandemic reopening By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports April 29, 2020 at 8:00 pm Las Vegas Boulevard is still quiet and will remain so for now. But a lot is happening in preparation for a slow-rolling reopening at the appropriate time. That runs contrary to the damaging and nonsensical blather of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and the Astroturf reopening protests that have been taking place on the Strip and throughout the country. Goodman has been shouting about throwing the doors open and letting the chips – and bodies – fall where they may. The protesters, whose funding connections to far-right political groups are thinly veiled, have been shouting about the Liberty and the Constitution and how their inalienable right to be reckless supersedes stay-at-home orders and the best efforts of medical science. But beyond the tabloid headlines, there are signs of life. To their credit, gaming companies are explaining some of their reopening strategies even as they evolve with the latest fact-based analysis of the coronavirus pandemic. Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Red Rock Resorts, and many others are rolling out their plans for moving ahead. Fortunately, no one is claiming a return to “normal” is right around the corner. And that’s another reason why the chatter of some elected officials is so damaging. It paints a global crisis, perhaps the worst of its kind in a century, in false tones. Here is where industry leaders can do what even some hard-working elected officials, such as Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, cannot – get through to thousands of casino and tourism employees to explain the real challenges that lie ahead. Many of those challenges are daunting, and much is unknown, but hearing from the corporate titans gives a clearer picture of the true state of the pandemic economy. The empty pedestrian overpass above the Strip near Park MGM /Shutterstock Some companies have given far more to sidelined employees than others. It was good to hear Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio announce the company, which furloughed 90% of its employees weeks ago, was stepping up to do more for workers through its Caesars Cares program. In expending pay, paid time off, and company-paid medical benefits through June 30 for employees enrolled in the company’s health plans along with government assistance will provide a “financial bridge” for most of the company’s furloughed workers, he said in a news release. Rodio acknowledged that “some team members at our U.S. properties may suffer other unexpected setbacks that require additional help. Caesars culture has always been based on caring for our people and our communities. Caesars Cares will be available to our work force nationwide, and Caesars Foundation will support local charities engaged in fighting this public health emergency. These initiatives reinforce this caring tradition and are certainly appropriate in these challenging circumstances.” There are other good signs in Las Vegas. Local elected officials continue to step up and speak up about the challenges the community faces. That’s not simply good politics, it’s good policy. The more we know, the less likely we are to listen to the provocateurs and outright prevaricators. To hear Clark County Commissioners Michael Naft and Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick clear the air about the importance of following Sisolak’s lead and relying on medical science, not politics, in determining how best to move forward was heartening. Seeing Commissioner Lawrence Weekly take to the streets of his district, as he so often does, to bolster constituent spirits and remind them of the importance of using medical best practices was another sign that many community officials are in this fight to win it. The devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on lives and livelihoods. But we’re stronger working together, and there are many signs that many people in positions of power and influence understand that. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.