Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered all nonessential businesses in his state to close, including casinos. That will leave the Las Vegas Strip dark and lead to potentially massive financial problems for Caesar's Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN).
What is Nevada doing?
Gov. Sisolak took the unprecedented action Tuesday night.
"I have spoken with Nevada's top medical experts to get their assessment of our current situation and most responsible next steps," he said in a press release. "They have advised that the most effective course of action is to direct all Nevadans to stay home and for all nonessential businesses to close to the public for 30 days."
The governor explicitly called out casinos in his public remarks on the attempts to keep COVID-19 at bay.
"This is not the time for casinos to remain open," he said. "This is not a time for community recreation centers, clubhouses, movie theaters, and malls to remain open. If your business brings groups of people together, it should not be open."
Devastating for casino operators
All casino operations were suspended on March 16 at midnight. MGM and Wynn had already planned shutdowns, and the cancellation of conventions and the March Madness NCAA tournament had already devastated business to Las Vegas' casinos.
March Madness is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for Las Vegas, driven by people looking to gamble on the tournament. Its cancellation, along with these forced closures, will likely lead to large layoffs and perhaps even casino closures, unless the federal government steps in.