Photo Credit: Locher/Associated Press
Las Vegas is one of the most famous cities in the United States. Its hotels, its casinos, its weddings livened up with Elvis Presley and Marlyn Monroe, its boxing matches… An entire city dedicated to leisure that is deserted after the pandemic caused by the COVID-19. Tourism is one of the sectors that will be most affected by the health crisis, and the tourist areas, as is the case of this American city, will suffer more severely the economic crisis that this virus will leave.
No less than 51% of the GDP of Southern Nevada, the state where the city is located, depends directly on tourism. In 2018 alone, leisure generated more than 51 billion Euros and now confinement may cause an unprecedented crisis. The most representative figure of what this pandemic can generate is the unemployment rate, which has risen from 4% to 22% between February and May. If it reaches 25%, unemployment in the city of leisure par excellence would double that registered during the Great Recession. But not only that, at the moment it is already 8 points higher than the unemployment rate of the whole country.
Las Vegas wants to reopen the casinos in the first place, since gambling accounts for 30 to 40% of the business on the Strip, which is the most important street in the city, according to Casino Pilot. While the reopening of the hotels will take longer. In addition, the city is working on holding major events to revive its economy. In fact, the NBA is planning to hold its entire finals in the city to prevent players from traveling around the country. This is a way to alleviate the lack of conventions, which each year exceed 3,500 and attract more than 42 million visitors.
The city’s mayor declared on CNN the idea of turning the city’s population into a kind of control group to assess the effectiveness of measures against the pandemic. In this way, she is looking for a formula to be able to get out before the confinement and start reopening its economy. Although, at the moment, nothing has been approved.
Is Brazil taking a wrong turn with the casino resort lobby?
During a live interview with the newspaper O Tempo, the Minister of Tourism, Marcelo Álvaro Antônio, was taken by surprise with the question about the legalization of casinos, and said that the issue of legalizing gambling rooms in integrated resorts “is not an official policy of the Government or of President Jair Bolsonaro”. “It is a project that is being built within the scope of the Ministry of Tourism, to be later presented to the president,” he said.
According to what Magnho José, a specialized journalist and president of the Institute of Legal Gaming of Brazil, said in his analysis of the situation, the minister also informed that the casino resorts help subsidize other activities of these resorts: “for example, it is possible to get cheaper rates in the very high level resorts, six stars. People get to subsidize the other activities of the resort through the casino, offering people who are about to hire a tourist package at a resort, better rates. So that’s the idea. Let people follow the example of Japan and Singapore, which had almost two million visitors a year and went on to have almost 30 million. We have many international success stories of casinos integrated into resorts,” said Alvaro Atonio.