The resort, which has a total of 2,993 rooms and numerous restaurants, including Sin City’s only Eataly, is slated to reopen on September 30. This will be the last of MGM’s properties to return.
Locals have whispered for months that Park MGM will become the Strip’s first completely smoke-free casino – a move that fits the embracing nature of the resort.
MGM Resorts International
Earlier this summer, when MGM Resorts and other casino companies decided to reopen some resorts, rumors surfaced that ownership between New York-New York and downtown would likely ban smoking.
On Monday morning, the resort’s website was updated with a new homepage that reads: “Clean the Air: MGM Park is Smoke-Free.”
End of an era
Local historians say the move is a big deal.
Since the early days of Las Vegas, casinos have been synonymous with smoking, especially in gambling halls.
Elsewhere in the city, especially before the pandemic, visitors could find ashtrays at every gaming table and waiters dressed in chic outfits parading the casino floors selling cigarettes and cigars.
David G. Schwartz, who has written 11 books on Vegas, said Park MGM’s move was a sign of the times.
“While there have been many casinos outside of Las Vegas that have been smoke-free, this is the first time that a Las Vegas resort of this size has become smoke-free,” said Schwartz, who is also associate vice-provost for faculty affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “It shows how the casino gaming industry’s stance on smoking is changing. “
Howard Stutz, longtime video game industry reporter, agreed.
Stutz said that while casino companies have tried smokeless gambling on the Las Vegas Strip, they’ve only experienced it on a smaller scale.
Specifically, he noted, several properties have small non-smoking non-smoking areas. One property, the former Silver City Casino, tried to go completely smoke-free in 1991, but that effort failed after a few bleak months.
Just in case people haven’t gotten the message already.
MGM Resorts International
“For Park MGM and NoMad, the timing for Covid-19 health and safety guidelines seems right,” Stutz wrote in an email. “So many other gambling markets, especially Maryland, are non-smoking. “
Stutz, who is also the editor of the gaming industry trade publication CDC Gaming Reports, predicted that there would likely be some pullback from smokers and smokers’ rights groups, but said said he expects this decision to continue.
A big bet?
MGM Resorts’ move may even prompt other casino companies to follow a similar strategy. While no other casino company has made a commitment to making resorts permanently smoke-free at this time, many resorts have temporarily banned smoking as the industry continues to fight to limit the spread of Covid- 19.
2020 has certainly been difficult for Las Vegas.
The tourism industry has closed almost completely, with all casino resorts closing in April and May due to the pandemic.
According to statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, visitor traffic in June 2020 was 70% lower than it was in June 2019, despite the gradual reopening of several gaming properties earlier in the month.
The numbers have climbed slowly since then; this past weekend has been one of the busiest since February.
Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President of MGM Resorts, said he remains optimistic that the launch of the Strip’s first 100% smoke-free casino is an important step on the road to recovery.
“The past six months have presented extraordinary challenges,” Hornbuckle said in a statement. “There is a lot of work to do as we remain focused on the health and safety of our employees and customers, but this is an important time for us. “
Matt Villano, who regularly covers Las Vegas, is a writer and editor based in Northern California.