Vegas, baby! Casinos reopen after long coronavirus closure

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FILE - In this May 21, 2020, file photo, a worker looks over an electronic slot machine as chairs have been removed from some machines to maintain social distancing between players at a closed Caesars Palace hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Cards will be cut, dice will roll and jackpots jingle when casinos in Las Vegas and Nevada begin reopening at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, June 4. There will be big splashes, even amid ongoing unrest, and big hopes for recovery from an unprecedented and expensive closure prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS – Mask use was spotty among customers as casinos in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada reopened Thursday for the first time since March following a closure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Wash your hands while saying, ‘Vegas Baby!' 20 times," a video marquee cheered on the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip.

Hotel-casinos in downtown and suburban Las Vegas were first to open right after midnight. Several dozen people waited at the high-rise D Hotel and Casino on Fremont Street to have their temperatures checked at the door. The casino quickly filled with revelers and gamblers while a bartender danced, wearing lingerie and a surgical mask.

Las Vegas Strip casinos opened hours later in a nod to recent nighttime protests over the death of George Floyd, some of which turned violent. A Las Vegas police officer remains hospitalized after being shot in the head late Monday during a protest on the Strip, and a man who authorities say was armed with several guns was shot and killed the same night outside downtown federal buildings.

Jeff Hwang, a gambling enthusiast, author and blogger, began a trek at midnight to visit every casino in town that was scheduled to reopen.

Employees wore masks, but not many customers, at about a dozen places Hwang said he stopped before going to the Treasure Island casino, which opened quietly about 9 a.m. with seats removed to limit players at table games and slot machines. The few people entering found no greeters at the door and no temperature checks.

State gambling regulators, citing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, required resorts to provide temperature screenings for hotel guests, but not casino patrons. Employees can be required to wear facial coverings, and customers were encouraged to do so.

Hwang said he was given face coverings earlier, including one with a Golden Gate logo at the city's oldest existing downtown casino. “Walking around, not many people were using them," he observed. “Just employees."