By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Private businesses, including the Las Vegas Raiders, have become major influencers in getting people in Nevada to take the covid vaccine, said Pat Mulroy, senior fellow at Brookings Mountain West and member of the Wynn Resorts board of directors.
“I think it is going to become a condition of employment and a condition for being able to attend (public events),” she said on Nevada Newsmakers.
The Raiders have taken the lead in Las Vegas on the issue, she told host Sam Shad. However, only 48.62 percent of Nevadans have been fully vaccinated with another 10 percent partially vaccinated, according to data in the Nevada Independent.
“When the Raiders announced that they were going to require vaccinations for someone to come into the stadium to watch a game, that goes a very long way,” said Mulroy, the former general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southern Nevada Water Authority.
“I think when you see employers start to say, ‘You will be vaccinated, or you will no longer be able to be employed here,’ that is going to make a difference,” she said. “The business sector pushing this vaccination requirement is going to make a huge difference.”
Clark County has reported more than 308,000 covid cases, according to the Nevada Independent data. Almost 5,300 people have died from covid in Clark County and more than 6,600 statewide have died.
An updated report from the White House labeled Clark a county with a high covid transmission rate. Clark County was first labeled a “sustained hot spot” on July 5.
Mulroy also addressed the politicization of covid as some Republican governors have stood up for “personal freedom” in opposing mask and vaccination mandates. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has blocked some school districts’ mask mandates and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has blocked vaccine mandates.
“I don’t for the life of me understand why this has become a political point of contention,” Mulroy said, without naming anyone in particular. “And to me, quite honestly, those who have made it a political point of contention are incredibly irresponsible.”
In addressing the push back against the covid vaccines, Mulroy added:
“Not only am I surprised but I am irritated. I’m losing my patience with it. I’ll be honest with you.”
Vaccines have been the norm in protecting the health of the U.S. population for decades, Mulroy said.
“Don’t you remember when we went to school that we had to have shot records?” she said. “We had to show we had our (shots for) polio, our small pox, diphtheria, tetanus. How do you think all of these diseases were put in the rear-view mirror? How do you think we conquered those diseases? Through vaccination.”
Mulroy also spoke about Las Vegas Sands selling its Las Vegas properties for $6.25 billion to focus on its Asian properties in Macau and Singapore. It is something that Wynn Resorts, which also has Macau properties, would not consider.
“I don’t feel comfortable criticizing Sands on their business strategy one way or the other,” she said. “Is it a choice that Wynn Resorts has made or would make at this point? The answer to that is no.”
The U.S. gaming market has been more stable, Mulroy said.
“When we look how volatile Macau is right now, you know — the border (with China) is open. The border’s closed. The border’s open. The border is closed, all because of covid,” she said. “I would feel that our strategy of maintaining a strong foothold in Southern Nevada, which is still the gaming mecca of the world, makes far more sense. It has been Las Vegas and Boston that have carried us through the covid crisis, far more effectively than our Macau holdings have done.”
Mulroy downplayed recent Asian influences in the Las Vegas gaming market, despite the opening of Resorts World, a massive Las Vegas Strip property with an Asian theme. Yet Mulroy said good ideas from the Asian markets also make their way to Las Vegas.
“You knew there was going to be cross-pollination,” she said. “That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. With Resorts World coming in, they are not the first Asian endeavor that has come to Southern Nevada but yes, they are the next.”
The professional and collegiate sports factors in Las Vegas have been more “impactful” than any recent Asian influence, Mulroy said.
She noted that Las Vegas has franchises in the National Football League, National Hockey League and Women’s National Basketball Association.
Las Vegas also plays host to numerous collegiate basketball tournaments and has upgraded the teams for the Las Vegas Bowl post-season football game.
Last week, more than 54,500 fans watched the BYU football team defeat the University of Arizona at Allegiant Stadium, setting a record for the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Las Vegas. Also, Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s have discussed moving the franchise to Las Vegas.
“I think far more impactful, in terms of what is affecting Southern Nevada, isn’t the influx of Asian ideas but rather the diversification in the sports area,” Mulroy said. “We have become a sports mecca, between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Golden Knights and the Aces. We have a very robust sports program now in Southern Nevada that we have never had before. And I think you are going to see that having a far greater effect on the resort and gaming industry in Southern Nevada than you would the Asian element.”