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Vegas Casinos to Open Slowly, PA Sportsbooks Losing Millions But Online Casinos Thrive

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Apr/17/2020

“I’m putting the lives of my fellow Nevadans ahead of dollars,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said as the mayor of Las Vegas and others continued their criticism of the extended closures that began in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.


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“We will reopen when the time is right,” he said Thursday night at the state capitol building in Carson City. “It’s not as easy as flipping a switch.”

More than 3,300 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 137 have died in Nevada. But the rate of increase in those numbers has slowed this week and the percentage of hospital beds filled with patients has steadied over the past 10 days. About four out of 10 acute care beds statewide remain empty, as do about three out of 10 in ICU units.

Federal officials reported that a whopping 60,180 more Nevadans filed for unemployment benefits last week, and state Senate GOP Leader James Settelmeyer said Sisolak had a duty to share with Nevadans whether he’ll extend the existing closure order past April 30.

“I don’t have a benchmark date yet,” Sisolak said Thursday night. He said prematurely reopening businesses runs the risk of hurting the economy more in the long run.

“It would be a very gradual manner. Restrictions would slowly be released or relieved a little bit,” he said.

Coronavirus shutdowns cost sportsbooks $220 million in wagers during March, according to estimates by the gambling website PlayPennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s handle slumped to just $131 million for the month, according to official data released Thursday. That’s down over 60% from $330 million in February.

But those shutdowns sent home-bound bettors to online casinos and poker rooms in record numbers. Combined, online casino games and poker generated a record $24.3 million in revenue, easily surpassing the previous best of $19.5 million in revenue set last month. The March gains yielded $5.9 million in tax revenue for the state.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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