Posted on: December 3, 2020, 09:29h. 

Last updated on: December 3, 2020, 09:29h.

The Las Vegas business community, including those in the gaming industry, are becoming increasingly optimistic on a quick recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Las Vegas economy Nevada gaming industry
Pedestrian traffic on the Las Vegas Strip, some analysts say, will return to its busy norms in 2021 and 2022. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced this week that the first federally distributed doses of the coronavirus vaccine are expected to arrive by the middle of the month. However, the COVID-19 antibodies will first go to frontline workers, hospitalized patients, nursing home residents, and others most at-risk.

The vaccine, Sisolak explains, won’t likely be available on a widespread scale until the spring. But when it arrives for the general public, experts say Las Vegas casinos are poised for a boom.

“We lost more jobs quicker than ever before. We added more jobs quicker than ever before,” explained UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research Director Stephen Miller.

We’ve got a way to go, but there’s no doubt about it: the end of the virus is in sight. So too will the end of pain with the Las Vegas, Reno economies, and the Nevada economy overall.”

Miller’s comments came during a virtual meeting yesterday cohosted by the UNLV Center for Business Economic Research and the Las Vegas Global Economics Alliance.

Betting on Comeback

Miller certainly isn’t alone in believing the Nevada economy will return to better health once a vaccine is available.

Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, opined that due to the nature of the virus, the recovery will be easier than compared with the subprime mortgage crisis experienced in 2008 and beyond.

“This is going to bounce back quickly,” Thornberg predicted.

Nevada casino operators — and their workers — have suffered greatly during the coronavirus. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated, tens of thousands more were put on furlough, and many others saw their hours reduced. As for the casinos, gaming win has plunged 44 percent in 2020, and a lack of visitors has resulted in some resort hotels closing through the week.

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox opined this week that the pent-up demand fueled by ongoing stay-at-home advisories and work-from-home directives will result in a tourism spike once leisure travel is deemed safe.

“The future of Las Vegas is bright,” Maddox declared.

Party Like It’s 2019?

The Las Vegas experts say the recovery will come into focus sometime next summer, a couple months after the COVID-19 vaccine can be adequately dispersed to the public.

The recovery, Miller believes, will initiate in the summer of 2021, with 2022 being the year where visitor volumes and gaming revenues returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Vegas is going to be just fine. In two years, it’s going to be a weird memory,” concluded Miller.

Maddox believes it’ll be a time not unlike the Roaring Twenties, when Americans went out dancing and celebrating after the ending of World War I and the Spanish flu.

For now, Nevada’s unemployment rate stands at 12 percent as of October. That’s significantly higher than the 6.9 percent national average.

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