The best marketing for the casino industry comeback: Full Vaccination By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports March 31, 2021 at 7:00 pm If there’s one thing Las Vegas has always been good at, it’s marketing itself to the world. From low-roller bargains to high-rolling penthouses, sexy singles getaways to family-friendly atmospheres, you name it, and some Las Vegas marketing maven has probably thought of a way to grab their attention. But now the world has changed. Now in its second year, the coronavirus pandemic continues to kill and sicken scores of people a day. The numbers have improved in Nevada enough to enable Gov. Steve Sisolak to justify loosening restrictions and reopening areas of the resort industry previously shuttered due to COVID-19. Shutterstock It was Sisolak who moved with prudence to shutter casinos last year during the pandemic’s early surge, then only partially reopen the operations. Industry leaders have been on board despite the withering of their bottom lines. They recognize the basic truth about fighting COVID-19: A failure to take care of the business of battling the pandemic today endangers all the tomorrows of Las Vegas. When Sisolak placed front-line casino workers in a category of vaccine priority in February, it was not only a good sign for the industry but also sent an important message to a nation of potential Las Vegas visitors. Atlantic City is attempting to send a similar message as it staggers back to its feet. Vaccinating front-line workers in an economy that depends on the casino factories for its prosperity only makes good sense. That process began this week with the goal of vaccinating all workers by Memorial Day. This week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that MGM Resorts International was opening a vaccination site at Mandalay Bay. Previously, Wynn Resorts’ Encore participated in a vaccination clinic in conjunction with University Medical Center. On Wednesday, Caesars Entertainment said it would open an inoculation center at the Rio Casino Resort. In Pennsylvania, the placement of a large vaccination site at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino resort has generated objections from some politicians. Although centrally located and convenient for many, some elected officials contend having one mass vaccination site burdens at-risk populations that often have difficulty finding sufficient transportation. It’s happening across the country at casinos from Oregon (Seven Feathers) to Connecticut (Mashantucket Pequot Foxwoods.) And it only makes sense: Big sites with large parking lots and, let’s face it, not much business these days. Although there are plenty of dark clouds in the distance – dropping mask mandates in several states even as new variants of the virus hold the threat of yet another spike – there are many promising signs of recovery. The fact that by now should be irrefutable is that Las Vegas will never recover its full swagger until residents outside the state are in a position to travel and play. Even with the best-case scenarios that will take months. What can Las Vegas, and other casino destinations, do in the meantime? Show the rest of the world that, despite their reputations for festive frivolity, they continue to take the deadly virus seriously. That means one day being able to add a message to those big marquees that says simply and profoundly: “We’re fully vaccinated.” Imagine the marketing slogan. It’s a story that would circle the globe. To be sure, it’s no mean feat considering the army of employees and all the politics surrounding the vaccination rollout. Many people have a real aversion to being vaccinated, and I try to keep that in mind even at times the statistics and medical experts say that every day of delay only brings the country one day closer to another miserable surge. Is it possible to go faster? Can the major employers on the Strip create a little friendly competition to see who can reach that 100 percent goal? Is there a possibility of using the power of those economic engines to outreach into underserved areas of the community? Imagine the promotional advantage of the first major Las Vegas resort to advertise that all its employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Maybe it’s impossible, but the effort makes an unbeatable advertisement will once again remind the world that Las Vegas is all in. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.