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The economic impact of COVID-19 is continuing to be felt in the US gambling industry, with numerous Las Vegas Strip casinos announcing permanent layoffs. 

Many staff in Nevada and beyond had been temporarily placed out of work when venues were forced to shut in mid-March due to the pandemic. 

In June, a number of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip had notified the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR)’s Employment Security Division that layoffs were coming. 

Casinos in Vegas and beyond have been allowed to reopen, but at just half of the capacity they would normally be allowed to operate at. 

Challenging times for the Las Vegas Strip 

The casinos that had announced layoffs did so in accordance with the 1988 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN). This legislation makes it mandatory for all US companies with 100+ employees to notify state authorities and affected workers of their decision at least 60 days in advance. 

According to the DETR, the Sahara, Treasure Island, M Resort and Trump International (which has a hotel but no casino) have issued “WARNings”. Penn National and MMG Resorts have done likewise. 

Treasure Island will begin its permanent layoffs from August 14th, with 414 employees losing their jobs in total. Meanwhile, Sahara Las Vegas “plans to implement a layoff” from September 18th. However, the venue did not give a figure as to how many people they would let go. 

Elsewhere, Harrah’s Reno and Peppermill Resort Hotel Casino are also looking at making cuts to their employee numbers. 

Casinos in the Battle Born State had been hoping to bounce back after state restrictions, but necessary ongoing safety measures have made it difficult to operate – even with customers returning.

Sahara Human Resources Vice President Cary Berner had the following to say.

“When we recently learned we would be able to reopen on June 4th, we had hoped we would be able to bring the majority of employees back to work in the next few months.

“Though we have been able to reopen to some extent, we are required to comply with a number of protective measures that will substantially hamper our business.” 

“We anticipate a continued significant decrease in revenue; cancellation and non-booking of the hotel, restaurant, and entertainment events; and significant postponement and cancellation of convention bookings.”

Casino closures and COVID-19 not helping Nevada unemployment figures 

Considering that tourism and gaming are key industries in Nevada, it’s not surprising that the economic hit from COVID-19 has been felt as hard as it has. This is especially the case for the Las Vegas Strip, which is the state’s most important region for said activities. 

Since lockdowns were implemented just under four months ago, reports that 528,000 claims for unemployment have been submitted. According to the DETR, the last week of June saw 11,110 filings. This was an increase in figures from the weeks prior to that. 

At the end of May, Nevada’s unemployment rate was 25.3%. 

A better story for the rest of the US

Fortunately, the US in general is showing signs of recovery on the jobs front. Thanks to new jobs being added over the past couple of months, unemployment has started to fall. The figure for this currently stands at 11.1%, having been 14.7% in April according to The Guardian

2.5 million jobs were added in May, followed by 4.8 million in the following month. 3.6 million of those recovered jobs in June were within the hospitality sector. 

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