BULLHEAD CITY — Gov. Steve Sisolak last week ordered the closure of Nevada’s trademark casinos, an announcement that reverberated on both sides of the Colorado River.
“This is affecting the lives of our citizens. People are dying. Every day that is delayed here, I’m losing a dozen people on the back end that are going to die as a result of this,” Sisolak said at a news conference.
Sisolak ordered a monthlong freeze on gambling, shutting down everything from the famous casino resorts to slot machines found in convenience stores, cutting off an industry that fuels the state’s tourism and hospitality-powered economy.
Bullhead City officials, who were gathered for a city council meeting while Sisolak was making the announcement, were quick to react.
“There are 8,000 Bullhead City residents that could be impacted,” said Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter when he found out the order likely was to occur.
An estimated 8,000 employees of the casinos and their associated properties live on the Arizona side of the river.
Mayor Tom Brady said that “with the casinos shutting down, there will be people unable to pay their rents.”
Bullhead City’s economy also is dependent on tourism, much of it generated by the lure of the casino resorts in Laughlin that offer not only gaming and lodging but entertainment, dining and other activities.
Laughlin properties reacted quickly but quietly.
“Following the direction from the governor of Nevada, we are suspending operations,” said a message on the Aquarius Casino Resort’s Facebook page. “...We will reopen as soon as we are permitted and when we do, we look forward to providing the same incredible service, entertainment and river fun that make Aquarius and Laughlin great.”
Similar messages appeared on other property websites and social media pages.
Sisolak’s broad directive also includes the monthlong closure of nonessential businesses like bars, movie theaters and gyms at noon today. Restaurants must shutter their dining rooms and offer only takeout or delivery.
“No dine-in at food establishments should be allowed until further notice,” Sisolak said. “This also includes food courts, coffee shops, catered events, clubs, bowling alleys and other similar venues in which people congregate for the consumption of food or beverages. Pubs, wineries, bars and breweries that do not include meals provided by a full kitchen must close.
“To summarize: I am telling nonessential businesses you have two choices: One, find a way to service your customers through delivery, drive through, curbside pickup or front door pickup, or two, close your doors.”
The closures are part of federal guidance recommending social distancing. President Donald Trump has urged Americans to follow sweeping guidelines for the next few weeks, including for older residents to stay home and for all people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 as well as restaurants and bars.
What is essential?
Essential businesses that will stay open include:
Banks and financial institutes
Child day cares
Restaurants with delivery and take-out options
Hospitals and medical facilities
Garbage collection companies