Jammed sidewalks, fewer masks: Las Vegas shows signs of recovery heading into Memorial Day weekend

LAS VEGAS — Economic signs are pointing up for Nevada gambling and tourism heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, with reports on Thursday showing that casinos won $1 billion in April for the second month in a row, and monthly visitor volume increased for a fourth straight month.

Most casinos can again host 100% capacity, even ahead of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s target date of June 1. Masks are still advised for people who haven’t received coronavirus vaccinations and in some places with large indoor gatherings. Crowd restrictions and personal space restrictions will be virtually eliminated statewide next week.

Tourists have jammed sidewalks and returned to shows in Las Vegas in recent weeks — arriving mostly by vehicle, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Nevada Highway Patrol.

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For the second month in a row, casinos in Nevada reported $1 billion in house winnings in April, showing signs that tourism business is returning faster to pre-pandemic levels than some experts expected. (Photo: John Locher/AP)

The authority tallied nearly 2.6 million visitors last month in Las Vegas — a 15.4% jump in volume since March and more than twice the 1.25 million visitors the area hosted in December. But the number was still down about 27% from the pre-pandemic level in April 2019.

The highway patrol said it is teaming with the California Highway Patrol and Las Vegas police during the holiday weekend to focus extra patrols on busy Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, particularly near the Nevada-California border where weekend traffic jams of 12 miles (19 kilometers) or more have become common.

At McCarran International Airport, another economic measure showed improvement with a report Tuesday that more than 2.9 million passengers arrived and departed in April. That was up from 2.6 million passengers in March but down 32% from April 2019.

International travel has not fully resumed and only accounted for 1% of the April total.

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