As the gambling market in Las Vegas began to return to life last month, everyone thought that the coronavirus was in the rear-view mirror. However, as quickly as the doors were opened, new cases began to be seen once again, raising concerns over whether or not Nevada had relaunched its commercial operations too quickly. In order to keep things from shutting down once again, casinos have apparently been trying to keep quiet on any spike of new COVID-19 cases, putting the lives of employees and gamblers at risk in return for a few extra bucks in their pockets.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) ran a story last Friday that appears to uncover the dirty little secret. A cage cashier at the M Resort, Aileen Rotzin, is reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus but, instead of being proactive and protecting staff and patrons, the casino’s human resources department ordered her to remain silent, asserting that it was “confidential information.” Rotzin states, “It’s just human decency, with this COVID-19, that they let other people know (when employees test positive).”
At The Cosmopolitan, there have been at least 15 workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus, but the number could be higher – casinos aren’t required to report the number of infected employees. At another casino, there have been at least 38 dealers who were diagnosed with COVID-19, and there could be even more. One of the dealers has tried to make contact with coworkers in order to notify them, since the casino won’t do it, and another employee asserts, “It’s just frustrating. It for sure feels like they’re trying to hide it. There’s been no transparency. It just feels horrible.”
The state is already beginning to see some of its commercial activity come to a halt once again. Clark County, where most of the gambling action in Las Vegas can be found, ordered bars to shut down as of last Friday following an order issued a day earlier by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. The brief, one-month return to action after a three-month lockdown certainly won’t be enough for many to survive, and casinos could be playing a major role in the failure of Las Vegas – an ironic and sad commentary on the mental state of the million-dollar executives running the show.
To make matters worse for the future of Las Vegas, federal stimulus money is coming to an end. If Congress doesn’t offer a new package, the $600 monthly stipend given to Nevada’s unemployed concludes at the end of this month. The state has seen higher unemployment numbers than anywhere else, and the number of new coronavirus cases is increasing, as well. As of last Friday, there were 1,004 new cases in the state, about 260 more than what had been reported a week earlier.
Almost 25% of the state’s regular workforce is now out of work, and casinos, in an effort to pick up a few extra dollars, seem to be willing to exacerbate an already precarious situation. However, what they apparently don’t realize is that they’re only shooting themselves in the foot, forcing even bigger drops in revenue than what would have been incurred if they had been honest and transparent. The nickname Sin City seems to be more fitting than ever, and it’s unfortunate that those who have kept the city running – the employees – are the ones who have to suffer.