‘They’re not under the control of the city’; Mesquite waiting on governor’s plan to reopen casinos

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — When Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said she offered to be a control group for the reopening of the country in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, some cities in Clark County were surprised, including Mesquite Mayor Allan Litman.

The cities of Boulder City, Henderson and North Las Vegas were also surprised by the announcement. Litman talked about the plan for reopening casinos in Mesquite, saying they play a big role in the local economy.

“If you’re talking about Mesquite, at this point we absolutely have no plans because we have to wait, number one for the governor to come up with his plan,” Litman said. “We can’t form our own plan to reopen the casinos; they’re operated and licensed under the state gaming commission to do business. They’re not under the control of the city of Mesquite whatsoever, similar to the strip casinos in Las Vegas, which are not under the control of Las Vegas.”

The reopening of casinos is not a decision that cities get to make. Rather, it is up to the state gaming commission, and Mesquite will follow the plan that is laid out by the governor.

As far as Mesquite’s roll in the move to reopen casinos, Litman said they almost have to be asked to be involved.

“It’s not as simple as a small business. They’re not just going to open their doors and welcome the guests,” Litman said. “I believe that they’re going to expect certain physical limitations within the casinos.”

Outside city hall in Mesquite, Nevada, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the city of Mesquite, St. George News

Litman said limiting how many slot machines are open, the number of gaming tables open and the number of people allowed inside are possibilities, they don’t know for sure at this point. Nothing is for sure in Mesquite right now, but the closure of the casinos and hotels has definitely has had a major impact on the city.

“In Mesquite, it’s a big hit,” Litman said of the casino closures. “The three casinos make up the largest number of employees and workers in Mesquite, and they’re out of work. We’ve probably got, and we don’t know the exact number yet, about 1,500 or so hotel workers out of jobs.”

There are also smaller, local casinos with only slot machines. The mayor guessed that those casinos will end up closing some machines to keep social distance guidelines in practice.

Mesquite’s hotels are in a much different place than the major hotels on the Las Vegas strip, Litman said.

“You’re talking about some of these hotels with 18 to 20 restaurants alone inside of them,” Litman said. “They’re going to have their hands full, and it’s totally separate from what we’re doing here. I look at our three main hotels where they’ve each got a buffet room that normally is not open except on the weekends because the clientele is not there.”

Smaller businesses have been hit hard in Mesquite, as well as their golf courses. the golf courses are a major draw for the city as people from surrounding areas visit to play on their courses. The golf courses were open for a while, but people began to complain about others keeping social distancing and the fact that people were not obeying social distancing guidelines.

Litman said he lives on a golf course and didn’t notice anything wrong. When the governor got word of the reported lack of social distancing, he shut down the golf courses in the state. Now, most of the city drives to Arizona to golf at the Palms golf course.

As for their casinos, Litman said they will be moving forward and opening as soon as they can.

“It’s hurting us because our casinos are part of the lifeblood of our community,” Litman said. “Other then that, it’s a lot of mom and pop businesses if you know Mesquite.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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