And there it is. On Tuesday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all “nonessential businesses” in the state to close to the public for 30 days. Most notably for our interests, that means that all Nevada casinos – Las Vegas Strip and all – have now gone dark.

Governor lays it all out

Sisolak made no bones about it, summarizing his remarks quite bluntly:

To summarize: I am telling nonessential businesses you have two choices:

1) Find a way to service your customers through delivery, drive through, curbside pickup or front door pickup, or

2) close your doors

Additionally, all gaming devices, machines, tables, and the like are shut down. Now, that might sound obvious, considering casinos are closed, but remember that this is Nevada. There are slot machines EVERYWHERE. They are now all out of commission, which makes sense considering they are “high touch” devices, pretty much made for spreading germs.

“I know the impacts of this decision will reach far and wide into the homes and lives of our Nevada families,” Sisolak said. “This was not an easy decision to make. But in the last few days, groups and entities across Nevada have stepped up. Their efforts during this difficult time will make this storm easier to weather.”

He urged people to heed his directive, stressing that medical professionals need to continue to go to work, so the fewer people who get sick, the easier it makes their jobs, which are getting more difficult by the day.

Sisolak added:

My ultimate goal here is to come together as Nevadans to save lives. That requires aggressive strategies aimed at mitigating community spread. Medical professionals have made it abundantly clear that there is currently no treatment. While a vaccine is being developed, we don’t have time to waste. At this time, we must act aggressively and decisively to protect ourselves, our families, and our community.

A necessary step

Many casinos in the state had already closed ahead of the announcement. MGM shut down its Las Vegas casino operations on Monday, followed by hotel operations on Tuesday. A number of other states, including New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, and Michigan, have also closed casinos.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is growing exponentially. Latest figures tallied at worldometers.info has the current figure at over 8,000 with 127 deaths. That’s about 1,600 more cases than just yesterday.

Nevada’s spread out population should help it, as it is easier for people to practice “social distancing,” but its massive casino industry increased the risk significantly. You might as well put a neon sign on a casino saying, “VIRUSES WELCOME,” because they are among the easiest places for viruses to spread. Scores of people in close contact with each other at slot machines and gaming tables, touching buttons, levers, chips, cards, and money, not to mention door handles and railings 24 hours a day.

The Governor’s casino shutdown naturally puts the World Series of Poker in the crosshairs. The WSOP is still on as scheduled, but most live poker events have already been postponed. The casino shutdown is 30 days for now, but the WSOP starts in just over two months, so any extension of the shutdown will force the WSOP’s hand, if the WSOP doesn’t decide to postpone the Series before then.

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