| Reno Gazette Journal
Las Vegas Strip reopens, awakening from 80-day coronavirus comaThe Las Vegas Strip is slowly awakening after a nearly 80-day slumber due to the coronavirus crisis.USA TODAYLAS VEGAS – MGM Resorts, operator of a dozen properties in this gambling and entertainment capital, will furlough 140 managers on Monday due to a dip in business. “Business volumes are projected to remain low for the beginning of the year due to the pandemic, unfortunately requiring temporary reductions in staffing across our Las Vegas properties,” MGM Resorts spokesman Brian Ahern said in an email statement to the Reno Gazette Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “We are focused on bringing employees back to work when business levels recover.”The company is optimistic that a widely distributed vaccine will allow staffing and business levels to return, the statement said.Impacted employees with MGM Resorts health plans remain eligible for benefits and continue to have access to the MGM Employee Grant Fund and access to MGM’s employee resources and training. Las Vegas resorts corridor continues to struggle In August, the company laid off 18,000 – one fourth of the 68,000 workers the casino company employed before the pandemic. The terminated employees were on furlough since March, when all U.S. properties closed due to COVID-19. The layoffs come five months after the pandemic shuttered the Las Vegas Strip and resorts across the U.S., bringing the tourism economy to a halt and putting a majority of the hospitality workforce out of jobs.COVID-19 travel fallout has transformed Las Vegas from a global destination to a regional gambling hub dependent on drive-in business. Casinos downsized, operating hours atrophied – and thousands were left to navigate pandemic life without paychecks.In April, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos to close to stem the virus that’s killed over 300,000 Americans and infected at least 20 million. With the closure of The Strip and other Nevada businesses, Las Vegas’ jobless rate jumped to 34%.A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Tuesday showed an estimated 11.5% of Las Vegas workers were out of jobs in November – the highest rate among 51 metro cities with at least 1 million people.A global destination turns regionalWithout international travel and domestic travel, Las Vegas has since become a regional gambling hub for visitors from California and Arizona.Visitation is now down to levels the state hasn’t seen since 1993. With concerts and conventions canceled and hotel towers closed, Nevada will remain in financial trouble with thousands of jobless residents stuck in a jammed unemployment system until COVID-19 restrictions are rolled back and travelers regain their confidence.In 2019, Nevada generated $12 billion in gambling revenue. It was the first time in 12 years that the state reached that mark – and only the third time ever. But gaming revenue is now down 36% for the fiscal year. It stands to further dwindle by year’s end. Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA TODAY Network.