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Stateside


Sharon Harris looks at some winners and losers from events in 2020. Mostly losers though, to be fair…


G


ood riddance to 2020. In this final column for the year, I pray for a better 2021. My January 2020 column boasted of gaming’s rightful place among mainstream leisure options that benefit hundreds of millions worldwide.


Fast forward 11 months, where many of these same gaming operations and lives hang by a thread from the Covid-19 wreckage. Millions of small and big businesses that barely survive confront years of recovery. Add a national presidential election – with mixed


results – last month to the turmoil. In his third White House try since 1988, former Vice President Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump. Down ballot, Democrats lost big in Congress and state legislatures. How will this impact America and the world? Who


knows? Will there be more civility? Probably. Will changes Biden undoubtably makes be successful? Maybe. He’s recycling several Obama people into his Cabinet, but conditions have radically changed since 2016. Positive news comes from gaming initiatives passed in


Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota and Virginia. Three expand gaming and three legalize sports betting. Approaching 2021, operating US casinos is a guessing game where most owners are continually crossing their fingers to remain profitable. Our current environment allows governors and other officials to order sudden closures, or “pauses.” Last month, Nevada, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Michigan and Rhode Island, plus dozens of other strong gaming states, experienced specific shutdowns. Minimum uniformity means the US has evolved into a reactionary patchwork of regulations. Managing these scenarios is near impossible for multi-property, multi-state companies.


10 DECEMBER 2020 Nevada’s three-week statewide “pause” reduced


restaurant and bar capacity, including casinos and taverns with slot machines, to 25%. Governor Steve Sisolak said, “…the full force of the Nevada Gaming Control Board will be behind the implementation and the enforcement of these 25% requirements.” He also lamented that a “suffering Nevada” lacks economic diversity, which presents commercial challenges. MGM closed weekday hotel operations at Mandalay Bay and The Mirage in Las Vegas, plus at Atlantic City’s Borgata. Las Vegas Sands enacted similar closures at Palazzo, as did Wynn’s Encore. Outside of casinos, Nevada’s 2,451 restricted gaming locations, with fewer than15 machines, operate 17,600 slot machines. The Gaming Control Board reports that Clark County/Las Vegas alone totals more than 1,600 restricted gaming licensees with 13,200-plus slot machines. New Jersey has stopped all indoor service statewide at


restaurant, bar and casino venues between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Indoor bar seating is prohibited at all times. Who knew the virus stopped spreading late at night? Gaming floors remain open 24 hours at reduced capacity. The “wisdom” of this is lost on me. Is it any safer at


9:30pm or 6am? How many gamblers will stay late if they can’t order coffee or food before driving home? Casino employees and vendors who supply the properties overnight are out of luck. Across the political spectrum, a pervasive “do as I say,


not as I do” mentality and stunning hypocrisy has created a growing undercurrent of public hostility. Over several months, many gaming state governors, mayors and lawmakers have repeatedly been exposed via videos and photos. I have my favorites.


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