Nevada guv extends COVID-19 closures, casino stocks slide


nevada-casinos-coronavirus-closure-extendedNevada’s casinos will have to stay shut a little while longer to give containment of the COVID-19 pandemic a fighting chance.

On Wednesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a formal Stay at Home directive to state residents, forbidding them from leaving their homes for “nonessential activities” in the hopes of minimizing further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Sisolak also extended the nonessential business, gaming and school closures he originally issued on March 17. That original order required all gaming venues to shut their doors for 30 days but this has now been extended through the end of April. Sisolak’s office said the extension “mirrors the latest guidance from the federal government.”

On Tuesday, Sisolak sent a formal appeal to US President Donald Trump seeking a disaster declaration that would enable Nevada to qualify for additional federal assistance. Nevada had nearly 1,300 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 31 deaths as of Tuesday. Clark County, in which Las Vegas is located, accounted for 961 of those infections and 28 of the deaths.

Sisolak’s new rules had a predictable effect on the share prices of Las Vegas casino operators, with across-the-board declines by the end of Wednesday’s trading. Eldorado Resorts, which shot up 20% on Tuesday on word that its merger with Caesars Entertainment was still on, gave up nearly all those gains on Wednesday, closing down 18.8%.

Penn National Gaming fared even worse, falling nearly 20%, Churchill Downs Inc was off nearly 16%, Wynn Resorts slid 10.3% and Boyd Gaming fell 9.7%. By comparison, Las Vegas Sands (-5.1%) and Caesars (-2%) got off fairly easy, while MGM Resorts somehow floated above the carnage, closing down only 0.25%.

Wednesday did bring one piece of good news, as the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) authorized its sports betting licensees to offer wagering markets on more eSports competitions. This followed last week’s approval of certain wagering markets on CS:GO’s ESL Pro League Season 11: North America.

The NGCB now says that sportsbooks can offer wagers on 2020 CS:GO’s 2020 ESL Meisterschaft, the top tier of Germany’s CS:GO competition, the spring version of which is currently underway. As with the previous competitions, Nevada sportsbooks can only offer wagers on Head to Head, Winner of Each Match and Overall Winner.