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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - Barely a year after the Las Vegas Strip was shut down by COVID-19, its world-famous casinos have roared back to a record-breaking summer thanks to a remarkable winning streak.
Nevada pocketed an all-time record $1.36 billion last month from gamblers, who are flooding back to the city nicknamed Lost Wages after months confined at home with little to spend their money on.
"We weren't anticipating these type of numbers," said Michael Lawton, senior analyst for Nevada Gaming Control Board.
"In Nevada, a billion dollars in gaming win is kind of a bellwether number. And we've recorded a billion dollars in gaming win in five consecutive months."
July was something of a "perfect storm," thanks to the presence of major events including a Conor McGregor fight, a Garth Brooks concert at the gleaming new Allegiant Stadium, and the return of musical residencies such as Usher and Bruno Mars at swanky casino theaters.
The month also contained five weekends, including the bonanza Fourth of July holiday.
But the hot streak -- and bustling crowds on the Strip -- point to a renewed confidence in the safety of piling onto slot machines and roulette tables, even as the delta variant spreads and Nevada has had to reimpose indoor mask mandates.
Las Vegas, Nevada. The Strip. Image source: wikimediawikimedia
"The people that come to Vegas don't really seem too concerned," said one barman working on the Strip, who asked not to be named. "They don't seem super worried about getting sick or anything. I think if you're paranoid about getting sick, I don't think those people travel -- they probably stay at home."
Workers at casinos told AFP that many of their customers hail from the U.S. Midwest, Texas and Florida.
"It's definitely back to pre-pandemic levels," said Shawn Jones, a promoter at the brand-new Resorts World casino, who said the previous weekend's pool parties had fully sold out. "Maybe it's the pent-up energy... if you ain't able to do something for a while, then there's a big rush when they are able to get out."
Las Vegas became a ghost town in early 2020, with casinos ordered to close for 78 days, dealing a heavy unemployment blow to the tourism-reliant economy.
Capacity limits remained in place until this June, but even by May the city had broken its long-standing monthly gambling revenue record set before the global financial crisis that began in October 2007, according to Lawton.
Americans' reluctance to travel abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have benefited Las Vegas, with domestic tourism surging.
"We had been planning a girls' trip -- we were originally going to Greece in 2020, but it was postponed, so this is like a revamp," said Karen Utsey, 50, a defense contractor from Michigan. "Right now, I don't know if I'm comfortable going overseas."
Total visitor numbers for July hit 3.3 million, just 10% below the same month in pre-pandemic 2019 despite the relative absence of international travel.
Numbers arriving by car from California have surpassed pre-pandemic levels all summer.
Las Vegas, The Mirage Hotel, December 2013 Image source: wikimediawikimedia
While Lawton expects August gambling figures to track slightly lower than July, the gradual return of trade conventions that make up a huge slice of mid-week business offers hope for further growth.
In June, the World of Concrete drew headlines as the first major industry convention to return to Las Vegas, and this week saw events including movie theater summit CinemaCon, the JCK jewelry show and Cannabis Conference 2021.
Attendee numbers were expected to be lower than previous years, but both events were scrapped entirely in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, meaning their return to Las Vegas represents progress.
Dean and Amanda Moodie, 37 and 35, respectively, just arriving from Minnesota for the jewelry event, said they have taken outdoor-based vacations around the U.S. during the pandemic, but the Las Vegas trip "is probably our first dabble into things that are mainly indoors."
"I mean there's masks and stuff," said Dean Moodie. "I'm not too worried about myself personally anyways. And then we're both vaccinated as well." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Las Vegas, Casino, Pandemic, Reopening, Gambling
Three of the world's best land based casinos. Online casinos have pretty much won the battle with their land-based counterparts, but the latter continue to thrive in certain places. Major gambling hubs continue to attract people from all over the world, with cities such as Las Vegas, Macau and Monte Carlo being shining examples. Not surprisingly, some of the world's best land-based casinos can be found in these cities, with some exceptions. These three casinos are probably the best worldwide, so they must sit at the top of the list when planning a trip abroad.
Aria Casino in Las Vegas
Sin City is famous for its amazing casinos and it is the undisputed leader in the world of land-based gambling. There are dozens of amazing casinos scattered across The Strip and citywide, with new ones opening their doors every year. The Aria Casino which is similar to Conquer Casino Canada and resort stands out from the crowd as the biggest, most beautiful and the most expensive casino ever built. It is a huge place where players are guaranteed to find the most amazing games, exceptional entertainment and some of the best restaurants in the city. Their casino is one of the few that have natural light, something that is truly a rarity in this, otherwise, glowing city. Even though it is the newest casino in town, it already attracts huge crowds and it is expected to be the most popular casino in Las Vegas for many years to come.
Casino Baden-Baden in Germany
Germany is not the first country that comes to mind when people think about gambling, even though there are a couple of cool casinos nationwide. One particular place stands out from the crowd, the amazing casino of Baden Baden.
It was built centuries ago and it is inspired by the Palace of Versailles near Paris, so players can expect the utmost luxury. In the 19th century, it acted as a magnet for rich people from all over Europe, especially members of the French aristocracy. This casino is dripping in gold and it crosses the threshold separating casinos from art galleries and museums. Casual outfits are not accepted, but given the sheer luxury of this place, visitors are encouraged to put their best clothes on.
City of Dreams Casino in Macau, China
The city of Macau is Las Vegas' biggest rival and in some regards it has already surpassed its North American counterpart. It is a place where luxury casinos are abundant and visitors have plenty of options regardless of bankroll and games of choice.
The City of Dreams is perhaps the best casino to visit when you are in town and in the mood for gambling. It is one of the most luxurious casinos on the Cotai Strip, with more than 1000 slot machines, high-stakes card games and roulette. The City of Dreams has its own luxury hotel, with 1400 suites and it is conveniently located close to all the important city attractions.
Las Vegas, Oct 2, 2017: At least 50 people were killed and more than 200 injured in a mass shooting at a country music concert here. The lone attacker was later killed by the police.
Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo confirmed the death toll in the attack at the city’s Route 91 Harvest Festival, and called it the “deadliest mass shooting in US history”.
The gunman opened fire into the outdoor country music festival from the 32nd floor of Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino at 10.30 p.m. on Sunday while singer Jason Aldean was performing on stage. The attacker was shot dead by the police later, CNN reported.
The suspect acted alone and was identified as 64-year-old local resident Stephen Paddock. He was not found to be associated with any terrorist activity, said Lombardo.
The police were hunting for Paddock’s female companion, Marilou Danley, who they said was travelling with him before the attack, CNN reported.
US President Donald Trump posted a tweet offering his sympathies to those caught in the Las Vegas attack.
“My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!,” the President tweeted.
Off-duty police officers were among the dead, said Lombardo. Two other police officers were also being treated for injuries.
Bursts of shots could be heard in videos shared on social media, which showed scenes of people running away and trying to protect themselves.
“We heard what sounded like firecrackers going off. Then all of a sudden we heard what sounded like a machine gun. People started screaming that they were hit … when we started running out there were probably a couple hundred on the ground,” said Meghan Kearney, who attended the music festival.
“People kept dropping and dropping … People were getting shot one foot away from us,” she said. “People were trying to save their friends. There were gunshots everywhere. Helping them would’ve meant that we got shot too.”
Police tweeted that they were “searching for two vehicles associated with the shooter: Hyundai Tucson Nevada/114B40 and a Chrysler Pacifica Nevade/79D401”.
Leaders from around the world reacted to the horrific shooting. UK Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “appalling attack” in a tweet from the Prime Minister’s official Twitter account.
“PM – The UK’s thoughts are with the victims and the emergency services responding to the appalling attack in Las Vegas,” the tweet said.
“A deeply sad day for the city of Las Vegas,” wrote London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter. “London sends our condolences to the victims and their families.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted: “Australia mourns with America tonight after shocking senseless attack in Las Vegas.”
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Danish counterpart Lars Løkke Rasmussen also tweeted in support of the victims. (IANS)