Las Vegas casino capacity, crowds increase despite pandemic

Coronavirus
las vegas indoor capacity increases

People gamble at the opening night of the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on March 25, 2021. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Las Vegas increased its casino capacity and more pandemic-weary tourists are arriving at the entertainment city.

Casino capacity on the Strip increased to 80% and person-to-person distancing dropped to 3 feet on Saturday. The boom began in mid-March when casino occupancy went from 35% to 50% under state health guidelines.

Among the first arrivals were people ages 60 and older who were recently vaccinated with time and disposable income. Analysts said pent-up demand, available hotel rooms and $1,400 pandemic recovery checks from the federal government have contributed to the rush.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority tallied more than 2.2 million visitors in March. The figure was down 40% from March 2019. Casinos closed from mid-March to early June last year, helping to drive the Nevada jobless rate in April above 30% — the highest in any state. The current state rate is 8.1%.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has set a June 1 target for lifting nearly all coronavirus mitigation restrictions statewide. Mask mandates will remain in place indefinitely.

There have been 315,000 reported cases and 5,464 confirmed deaths in Nevada. The majority were reported in the Las Vegas area, where most people in the state live.

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