Sisolak’s casino closure may be first in Nevada’s 89-year history of legal gambling
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order this month that all casinos in the state shut down because of COVID-19 raised the question whether casinos were all closed at any time in the past.
After some research by Kile Porter, custodian of records for the Gaming Control Board, and Professor Michael Green at UNLV, Sisolak’s order appears to be the only time since gambling was legalized by the 1931 Legislature that all gambling houses were ordered closed.
Gov. Grant Sawyer issued a brief letter on Nov. 23, 1963, asking casinos to close for half a day on Nov. 25, the day of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral. But it wasn’t an order.
That letter states: “The governor respectfully urges that all business houses and places of entertainment observe the occasion of the president’s funeral from 9 a.m. to noon.”
Green reported that, according to what appeared to be an Associated Press story, most — but not all — Nevada casinos closed for the Kennedy funeral.
Green also reported that, during World War II, there were curfews and blackouts imposed by the Army that forced casinos to close in different parts of the state, but not for any length of time.
However, neither could find conclusive evidence of any mandated closure of all Nevada casinos.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.