With nearly 200,000 confirmed cases and almost 3,000 deaths, COVID-19 has really wrecked Nevada in 2020. Being a tourism-reliant state (17% of its GDP comes from tourism), Nevada’s suffered serious economic consequences this year. In May, we saw the state’s unemployment rate going as high as 28.2%.
Las Vegas casinos had to go into a lockdown at the height of the pandemic, which proved to be the longest in the city’s history. For exactly 78 days, the US capital of entertainment turned into a ghost town. Even after returning to business, casinos have been forced to work at reduced capacity (25% since November).
For all these reasons, everyone in Las Vegas would like to forget 2020. An appropriate way to say farewell to the horrible year is to blow up a sign saying 2020. That’s exactly what the LVCVA is planning to do in its virtual New Year’s Eve celebration.
Las Vegas New Year’s Eve Celebration to Go Online
Spectacular New Year celebration is a tradition in Las Vegas, which has been going on for over two decades. In fact, the 2020 celebration, which attracted more than 300,000 people, was the 20th time it happened.
However, this year, the celebration is not going to happen on the streets of Las Vegas (although some casinos are planning their own firework shows). Instead, the official celebration is going online. And it’s going to be a real blast!
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is going to organize the 2021 Vegas New Year celebration on the internet. Everyone interested will have a chance to watch live coverage of the event on social media (Facebook and YouTube). In addition, the LVCVA is also planning to stream the show on its official website (lvcva.com).
The main feature of the show is going to be the destruction of a 2020 sign in the final minutes before midnight. An announcer will narrate the entire event, including the countdown to 2021. When the clock ticks midnight, a lighted 2021 sign will be revealed, accompanied by a fireworks show.
The event should last some 15 minutes, during which the winners of the Las Vegas New Year’s contest are going to be drawn. The lucky winners will get a paid trip to Vegas in 2021.
Commercial Casinos to Shut Down Over the Holiday Season
Las Vegas New Year’s Eve Celebration is happening online, with mass gatherings likely to be forbidden on the Strip on December 31. Casinos in Nevada will probably stay open over the holiday season, but the same is not the case in all the other parts of the country.
Recent news is that Pennsylvania casinos won’t be working anymore this year. In fact, Governor Tom Wolf has signed a decree activating a casino shutdown that will last until January 4, the earliest. The new rule comes in motion a minute past midnight on Friday evening.
Despite a plea from Penn National Gaming, all land-based casinos in Pennsylvania will have to close their doors to the public. Apart from casinos, many other non-essential businesses will have to do the same, including movie theaters, museums, bowling alleys, and so on.
Officials from many other states came up with similar rules. As a result, only about half of all the casinos in America will be open over the Christmas period.
Recent Casino Closures Caused by COVID-19
- In California, one tribal casino had to close down due to COVID-19, namely, Havasu Landing Resort & Casino. However, at the time of writing, most other casinos remain open.
- Six Michigan casinos (Little River Casino Resort and five Kewadin Casinos) re-opened last week, but MGM Grand Detroit still remains closed.
- All of Wyoming casinos are closed down.
- In Oklahoma, only a couple of tribal casinos are closed, with a majority planning to stay open for Christmas.
- A majority of casinos in New Mexico are not working until further notice.
- In Arizona, most casinos are operational, even though Del Sol Marketplace, Casino Del Sol, and Casino of the Sun closed down on Monday.
- All of Florida’s casinos are open at the moment and are likely to stay open over the next couple of weeks.
- In Illinois, most gambling businesses on the outskirts of Chicago are shut down. Meanwhile, in other parts of the state, most casinos are operational.
There is some good news, however. With the COVID-19 vaccination about to start, the end of the pandemic is near. Better days are bound to come for US casinos in 2021, a year that could see some major changes in this industry. The story goes that big media companies like Google and Disney are planning to tweak their attitudes towards this activity.
Users to Control YouTube Gambling Ads
In an effort to promote responsible gambling, Google-owned social media heavyweight YouTube has decided to do something about ads dealing with online casinos and sports betting. Starting next year, YouTube users will have the option to turn off/limit gambling ads on the content they’re viewing.
The new feature will premiere in the United States sometime in early 2021 before becoming available worldwide. Previously, users could only mute ads they didn’t want to see. However, they couldn’t limit an entire category of ads, such as the gambling category.
Apart from being able to limit gambling ads, YouTube users will also have the option to do the same in regards to the ads promoting alcohol.
Disney to Embrace Sports Betting
In the past, Disney’s stance on sports betting was not very friendly, to say the least. However, it seems those days have come to an end. As revealed at an investor conference, the company is planning to embrace sports betting in near future.
From Disney's annual Investor Day meeting.
• Won a 10-year exclusive contract for ABC and ESPN to air the SEC beginning in 2024
▶ Disney will lean on sports betting to reach younger audiences, reports CNBC.
• Streaming service up.
• Stock's up $5 in after-hours trading.
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 10, 2020
The reason behind Disney’s 180-degree turn lies in the fact that its ESPN+ project hasn’t been doing very well. The streaming platform was launched with the aim of becoming a leader in sports coverage on the internet; the same ESPN is when cable TV is concerned.
However, since its launch in 2018, ESPN+ hasn’t met Disney’s expectations, with its competitors Disney+ and Hulu doing way better. As a result, the platform had to lay off 300 staff members last month.
To give ESPN+ a much-needed boost, Disney is planning to focus more on sports betting content. According to the company spokesperson, the decision is seen as a “key opportunity” for ESPN+ to grow. Apart from benefiting the online streaming platform, this move is also expected to do wonders for DraftKings and Caesars. Both of these gambling companies signed contracts with ESPN earlier this year.
At this point, it’s still not clear when ESPN+ will start its betting-related broadcasts. Still, knowing that some interesting sports events are coming up, it wouldn’t be crazy to think it’ll start in a few weeks’ time. As a reminder, there are going to be some big betting opportunities coming our way in the first quartal of 2021, including Super Bowl LV, March Madness, and so on.