Sports betting on the Las Vegas Strip will see its first tangible coronavirus effects this weekend as Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, and MGM Resorts announced temporary closures.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Sunday evening that these resorts will close temporarily beginning this week. Rumors of either a partial or full closure of the Wynn resort swirled through Las Vegas over the past 48 hours.
No other Nevada sportsbook has closed at this time. The FanDuel Sportsbook at Valley Forge Casino in Pennsylvania shut down earlier this week, marking the first reported closure of a sportsbook because of coronavirus issues.
Casinos in multiple other states announced shutdowns over the weekend.
Nevada sports betting vulnerable to coronavirus
Public health professionals uniformly report the necessity of social distancing to control the spread of coronavirus. While Nevada sportsbooks do not see shoulder-to-shoulder crowds outside football season and March Madness, the close proximity of seating in most books could create concerns about mass gatherings of people.
Sports betting in Las Vegas presents as particularly susceptible to any closure of retail sportsbooks. In-person registration for mobile accounts and the high volume of tourists wagering lends to a reliance on brick-and-mortar counters.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board first began separating out mobile handle in its reporting this year. Less than 50% of handle came from mobile and online platforms.
That total lags behind the trend elsewhere in US sports betting. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are just shy of 90% of wagers placed via mobile. Indiana neared 80% last month, just five months after launching online sports betting.
Poker room concerns previously expressed
The other tenet of the previously announced Wynn closure was the shuttering of its poker room.
Poker rooms in Las Vegas present what appears to be an environment ripe for the spread of disease. People seated near each other exchanging cards and chips for hours appear less than ideal for containing germs.
Popular poker pro Daniel Negreanu expressed that concern bluntly this week on Twitter:
All poker operators: stop.
Suspend all tournaments and cash games now.
There isn’t a more infectious environment imaginable than a poker table.
Shut it all down.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) March 12, 2020