Walk-Through of The D’s Empty Casino is Eerie, Surreal and Unforgettable

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime situation. See, Las Vegas casinos don’t close. Typically.

Few imagined they ever would, but now Las Vegas casinos have been closed for two months as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 saga.

The D empty casino

We were going to ease you into this, but you can handle it.

We’ve avoided visiting The Strip and downtown to capture Las Vegas during the shutdown because, well, it’s too damned depressing.

As chatter turns toward casinos reopening (all eyes are now on June 1), we figured it was time to chronicle a closed casino for posterity.

Our pick: The D, one of our favorite places to drink and gamble and drink in Las Vegas. Yes, we said drink twice. There’s a reason. We drink.

empty Las Vegas casino

You will try to think of something sadder, but you will probably fail.

The D was once Fitzgerald’s, and is owned by Derek and Greg Stevens, who also own Golden Gate, the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center and Circa, a new casino resort opening in December 2020 on the site of the former Las Vegas Club.

Our stroll through The D’s casino, without a single soul inside, was utterly surreal.

The D is known for its lively atmosphere, player-friendly games, louder-than-typical music, plentiful TV screens (usually showing sports), dancing dealers, Sigma Derby (a classic, coin-operated horse racing slot machine, pictured below), flair bartenders, people-watching and endless supply of colorful characters.

Sigma Derby at The D

If anyone ever asks if a slot machine can have a cult-like following, just say these two words: “Sigma Derby.”

As we captured video of the entirety of The D’s uninhabited casino, we experienced a surprising amount of sadness at the loss of our home-away-from-home, but also a renewed sense of appreciation for the people who serve us drinks, laugh at our stupid jokes while playing craps, dance in revealing outfits, shout at TV screens when their team scores a goal and everyone else who makes Vegas casinos so, well, Vegas.

Here’s a look at The D’s two-level casino. One take, no edits. Behold something you’ve never seen before and will never see again.

We’re still sort of rattled.

There are some things in Vegas you can always rely upon. Noise and excitement and chips clinking and drunk people acting like fools are some of those things.

Instead, just nothing. A big empty and a big sad.

Vue Bar The D

We miss you, Vue.

In a way we never realized before, we need The D back. We need everything back. We need the overbearing security guards at Linq, Cosmo’s high limit room cookies, the martinis at Triple George, the ridiculously overpriced drinks at Mr. Coco inside Palms, the broken escalators, the concierges who know everyone, the lunacy of “Absinthe,” the snooty salespeople at Wynn Plaza, the bone-in filet at Joe’s in the Forum Shops, the Strat’s elevator ride, Mirage’s lucky mermaids, the party at Flamingo’s Carlos’n Charlie’s, the poker rooms and bingo parlors, the cranky craps dealers and stern pit bosses, and yes, even the Sahara.

We need it all back.

We need our friends back.

We need our life back.

We need to Vegas again.

69 thoughts on “Walk-Through of The D’s Empty Casino is Eerie, Surreal and Unforgettable

    1. Jane Vollmer

      I’m not concerned about the distancing in anywhere if everyone is wearing masks. If that were to happen, we won’t have to be concerned with distancing. People wearing masks protect people who don’t wear mask. Those not wearing masks will likely infect those of us not wearing masks. or even those wearing masks. I just want people to be considerate of those trying to protect them.

      The casinos can open or not, my concern are all the shows. If everyone going to the shows wore masks, this space between people in large groups doesn’t matter, everyone will be safe. That way the people in the shows will be safe. I would hate for shows to close because the people involved in the shows were not comfortable returning to the stage.
      My

      Reply
  1. Patrick Henry

    This is going on all over the country and should inspire a scene in a movie……

    TYPICAL STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUREAUCRAT: I advise that this place be shut
    up at once.

    TYPICAL LOCAL OFFICIAL: (innocently)But everybody’s having such a good
    time.

    TSHDB Yes, much too good a time. The place
    is to be closed.

    TLO But I have no excuse to close it.

    TSHDB (snapping) Find one.

    TLO thinks a moment, then blows a loud BLAST on his
    whistle. The room grows quiet, all eyes turn toward TLO.

    TLO (loudly) Everybody is to leave here
    immediately! This establishment is closed
    until further notice! Clear the room
    at once!

    An angry murmur starts among the crowd. People get up and
    begin to leave.

    Derek comes quickly up to TLO.

    DEREK How can you close me up? On what grounds?

    TLO I am shocked, shocked to find that
    enjoyment is going on in here!

    This display of nerve leaves Derek at a loss. The croupier
    comes out of the gambling room and up to TLO. He hands
    him a roll of bills.

    CROUPIER
    Your winnings, sir.

    TLO Oh. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  2. Jane Vollmer

    I made reservations for a week over Labor Day, air fare, hotel, shows every night and other activities. I certainly hope my shows don’t get canceled. I’ll be 76 years old on September 5, and I’m not likely to be able to make many more trips. I look forward for Chippendales and Thunder from Down Under, they make mr feel young, special and alive. I got to see Chippendales March 2, 2020. I got hugs from three of the guys and got my photo taken with the group. It won’t be the same and a disappointment if the shows have tight restrictions, masks and distancing.

    Reply
    1. Lynn D Manson

      FYI, the Chippendale guys on Fremont Street DO NOT perform at any shows. They work solely on Fremont Street and the last guy that approached me had the BIGGEST pimples on his back. I advise that when you get to LV next, stay away from those guys especially with what is going on now with COVID.
      I hope you have a nice 76th birthday, Jane Vollmer!

      Reply
      1. Roberta Grajeda

        I’m sure she is talking about the Chippendale show at the Rio and the other show Thunder from down under. Not the slobs on Fremont street.

        Reply
  3. Delta Dave

    Yep, Sigma Derby does have a cult-like following, my bride & I have some very good (and fuzzy) memories
    playing that silly game, nasty coins and all. On our last trip in mid Febuary the game was down due to the
    remodel of the area and were quite bummed, we felt a little lost in the D without the sounds of those
    spastic little horses….

    Looking foward to our next visit !!

    Reply
  4. Funkhouser

    During a pandemic, who better to quote then Cheech & Chong, “Things are tough all over man..”
    While the tourism industry is especially hit hard by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The conversation should still remain focused not on when to re-open, but do we have a good plan and are we ready to keep Vegas visitors and casino employees safe and healthy in an environment with still many unknown health risks.

    Some operators have taken the lead by putting together well thought plans to bring operations back slowly. I myself have nothing but empathy for the thousands of workers displaced and hope that the current administration comes up with a financial aid package to help assist the travel and tourism industry workers which have been unfairly injured by this pandemic. We need them to know that the country is looking out for them and we are empathetic to their sacrifice during this pandemic.

    As much as some people want the doors to Vegas to reopen as quickly as possible, there is the reality that a large percentage of tourist and business people still are in no hurry to rush to a Las Vegas that is hasty re-open. There is no need to quickly open a Vegas ill prepared to contain and manage COVID-19 spread, and create unnecessary health risks for visitors, just because gamblers are going into withdrawal. I know I speak for a lot of Vegas enthusiasts who anxiously await for a safe Vegas to reopen when it’s ready.

    Reply
  5. Mike Alexakis

    The best way to get Las Vegas back is to listen to the scientists and public health professionals, and quit making re-opening a political issue… There is far too much we dont know about the novel coronavirus, including transmission, to safely allow people to resume normal activities… Virtually all experts say we need way more testing, and effective contact tracing, the casino operators should get together and make that happen for Las Vegas, loudly, it would send a good message to potential tourists. The federal government apparently feels testing is “overrated”, so waiting for them to lead on this will only stretch this out. I doubt it will be profitable for casinos to operate at low capacity, so its up to them to be proactive unless they are in no rush to get back… The Governor of Nevada needs the private sector to step up and help him out, the feds sure are not…

    Reply
    1. Funkhouser

      Two great ideas, that I am shocked no one is promoting in the US is: 1) A color coded tracking app like China has for travelers to reduce spread by limiting some movement from high risk areas or people. 2) Incentivizing people to tested for COVID-19. Both will help us control spread and obtaining real numbers in infection rates in the US, and ultimately open the country faster.

      Reply
      1. Mike Alexakis

        Hopefully we can ace Antigen Testing very soon, it will speed up the process exponentially, the FDA just certified the first company to produce them, but the FDA has abandoned its usual strict scrutiny in favor of expediency… It’s a shame that the federal government spews out mendacious idiocy instead of sound scientific information, a lot of people have paid the ultimate price for it. And now we will get this spotty recovery, the casinos should realize that these partial re-openings will not bring the tourists and conventions back, and focus on what actually will…

        Reply
  6. Henry The

    On the one hand, the casinos should have never shut down since COVID-19 is just the flu. On the other hand, 100,000 will have died by June, and that’s with a lockdown tight as a drum in many situations. If you believe everything that is coming out of the White House, your brain is better than mine at accepting crazy rants and contradictions as truths. It must be a lot more than just the flu with all of the daily barrages of retaliation and blaming China fanfare coming out of the White House. If it’s just the flu, then no one is to blame, it’s no big deal, and let’s get back to drinking and partying. Drink up, be merry, and how about let’s stop giving a pass to the racist crap.

    Reply
      1. Hornbet

        I see you’ve bought in to the WH propaganda of blaming instead of acting, that exactly how they want the masses to think.

        Reply
    1. Roberta Grajeda

      This is not a flu. This virus is attacking our Venous system. It is destroying the inner layer of our blood vessels, which in turn, causes clots to form. There for you have block alveoli’s and you can no longer have good air/gas exchange. It also effects the blood flow to all your vital organs.

      Reply
  7. Bruce

    I want Vegas back as much as anybody, but another Financial aid package? I understand the thought process, but handouts to a multi-billion dollar industry is just another road to ruin. We are already so far down the road to economic meltdown, our children and grandchildren will never dig out of it. We, as members of this republic, need to demand more of the private sector and less (much less) of government. Not sure if anybody’s noticed, but every time any member of government gets their hands on OUR taxes they just throw it away. It’s really time to get off the nipple and grab the controls back to this train. And no, I’m not some fruitcake calling for armed insurrection or violence. If we start demanding responsibility from our elected officials, businesses will need to adapt to the changing times and concerns or fail. My industry has also been hit hard by this, and we’re scrambling to salvage what we can. Shutting down huge swaths of commerce and government mandated quarantine of healthy members of society has been a knee jerk reaction that were all going to pay for in the long run.

    Reply
    1. USA

      Well said Bruce! I agree 100%!!! We need way more Americans like you and I in this country! All imposters please leave

      Reply
      1. JeffinOKC

        I’m over 60, and I am honest enough to say f my children and grandchildren. We boomers have always been the most selfish, me first people in human history. Complaining about our grandchildren’s burden is the height of arrogance. If they aren’t smart enough to work it out then we failed as role models. The world will function just fine after we boomers are dead.

        Reply
          1. Maybe

            Maybe not a hoax but maybe not man made either. Quite honestly I don’t care. Until I walk out of my house and melt then nothing has really changed since it’s been pushed.

          2. carol

            Correct, and coral reefs will soon be non-existent because that decor style is no longer fashionable. No worries, the oceans are functioning just fine.

          3. JeffinOKC

            Climate change is real. My comment is about how we Baby-Boomers are hypocrites who demand all the money for ourselves and then claim to be worried about the financial burden all this spending will place on our grandchildren.

        1. Bruce

          JeffinOKC-your comments don’t sound like something coming from a “boomer”. Boomer, as I’m sure you’re aware, has been turned into a disparaging term for my generation. Everybody I know or have any association with is very concerned with their children‘s and grandchildren’s futures – health wise and financially.

          Reply
    2. Tim

      The firings of watchdogs and IGs that are sniffing out the trails of corruption makes impossible the aim to hold elected officials accountable. But, keep dreaming.

      Reply
  8. Hank M.

    Opening in a rush for the sake of opening is a mistake. The worst thing for Vegas and the economy is to open too soon and then have a resurgence in the virus. You can bet the economic effects of a second longer lockdown will be way worse than what we’ve seen. Vegas casinos would be better off letting the tribal casinos open first and then seeing whether that leads to spikes in new cases. If it happens in LV, public companies like Wynn, LVS, MGM, and Caesar’s will no have no choice but to lock down for far longer.

    Reply
    1. James K

      A vaccine takes 12-18 months to develop. So Summer 2021 is your proposal to reopen? What’s the difference in opening this month, next month, December, or next Spring if there is no vaccine in place? Are you less likely to catch it if you wait 1 month to open? It won’t go away just because you wait 1 month longer….which is why open now before it’s too late for businesses, or wait 1.5 years (as you would have it) are the only logical answers.

      Reply
      1. Hank M.

        It’s a bad choice for sure, but when 90,000 deaths turns into 250,000, you can bet they’re closing for a long time. I say reopen when there is the ability to test everyone quickly at the door (like a pregnancy test with a finger prick). According to some in the federal government those tests are already out there. Make them put their money where their mouth is and prove it. If those tests don’t exist then the federal geniuses should be working on them. Sacrificing a trip to the casino while bodies pile up is not the worst thing people are facing.

        Reply
        1. Tony uk

          It’s not the trip to a casino great as it is that is important. Saving businesses and the livelihoods of many many thousands of struggling hard working Americans is the urgent need. A country with no money starves and collapses with or without covid. Open and take a chance or stay closed and die for sure.

          Reply
          1. Hank M.

            Problem is the US economy will surely be destroyed with a half a million or more deaths by the end of the year. “Taking a chance with lives” is a pretty cavalier attitude especially when the risks will be spread all around the country when LV visitors return home. I love Vegas as much any most, but rushing seems like a mistake that will mean the real Vegas doesn’t come back for much longer. You don’t see cruises, Disney or professional sports with fans rushing back.

  9. asdf

    Casinos should market and sign up customers for the re-openings with great deals. Obviously, there are many who want to go even with the changes.

    Reply
  10. Hornbet

    There’s a really simple solution – widespread testing! This is one area where the federal government has the power to make a difference, and the experience to roll out, and execute, a national plan.

    But what do we get? Gaslighting, blaming, and excuses. Where is the leadership?

    Reply
    1. Hank M.

      Agreed. Sadly instead of federal leadership we get lies, posing, and pretend leadership. This thing will likely last longer than it has to be because many are selfishly focusing on the short term. God forbid people miss out on some fun for a while. It sucks for all of us but some just need to grow up.

      Reply
      1. Truth

        It’s less than 1% by a long margin. It’s over. Practice general social distancing and relax! It’s done!! Move on with life!!! He handled it well too!!!

        Reply
    2. VaRedsFan

      The US has tested twice the amount of people than the next 4 countries COMBINED. If 49 out of 50 businesses got tested, but one of them didn’t get it, you can bet a $20 hornbet that the one that couldn’t get tested is the one that the media will focus on, instead of the 49 successes.

      Reply
      1. Mike Alexakis

        The feds wasted January, February, and March because they feared the stock market would tank if they started preparing for the pandemic, its a documented fact… South Korea immediately began testing people,in February by the millions, their death toll is under 300 people, and they had their first reported case on the same day we did… Mitt Romney outlined this into the faces of government health professionals, he actually cares about American lives more than the stock market… One hundred thousand deaths scares people away from casinos, rightfully, its time for the feds to own up to what they did, and help the states test and trace contacts, otherwise the recovery will be way slower…

        Reply
      2. Hank M.

        Adjusted for population, on a per person basis, the US is 10th the world in test numbers. We’re behind countries including Qatar, Belarus, Switzerland and Russia. It’s sad that the wealthiest country can’t do better.

        Reply
          1. role me once

            Some of these comments are obviously from people who wouldn’t know a graph from a giraffe.

      3. Yep

        Ding! Ding! Ding!! Well said and right on VA! Love it. This crap is over and ridiculous. Open the economy up! Life has risks… All the wusses can stay home!

        Reply
        1. Hank M.

          Be my guest. Mix with others from all over the country. There’s no risk because our national leaders said so. The president doesn’t even wear a mask (though he never mentions that no one can enter the room where he is without taking a clean test). Be nice if LV had something similar. I’m sure everyone visiting Vegas will be fine. It’s not like I’ve ever seen anyone there who is older than 60 or appears to have any pre-existing health conditions. I’m sure there’s no chance they’ll bring the virus back to their families, co-workers, friends, etc. Gotta have my fun. It’ll be fine..Freedom!

          Reply
          1. Funkhouser

            Exactly Hank, LV visitor profile stats show visitors over age of 60 as 24.01 percent of LV visitors. These are the folks at higher risk to COVID-19. Then 23.1 percent were aged 30 to 39 (Which normally represents folks with younger children or those taking care of older family members. We also need wide spread testing of healthy people as well so we can get real infection rate numbers in the populous.

        2. Funkhouser

          Yep. Tell us your great plan on how Vegas will survive at 35% occupancy rates, while the rest of us wusses stay at home. My industry dropped 12 million in convention business last year in Vegas, how much did YOU spend? None of my business peers want to take customers or employees to Vegas until we know it’s safe. So while we are staying at home because your whining about personal freedoms, Vegas goes down the crapper because of lost business from the folks who fill the rooms on weekdays and keep the lights on the for weekend tourist.

          Reply
          1. Rut row

            So it wouldn’t go down the crapper if we left it closed?!?!? Hmmmmmm. They are better at 30% capacity then zero. Besides it’s a choice. And this thing really is overt. Be safe, social distance and little longer and let’s move on with life.

  11. Charles Murray

    Yes , We do. This country and the whole world needs LAS VEGAS. The last time my wife and I were there I didn’t go back to my room till 3 AM. I was haveing so much fun. And Then we got up 4 hours later and did.it all over again. THANK YOU LAS VAGAS, See you again soon.

    Reply
    1. forest

      Hank isn’t saying anything different than what the global health pandemic experts are stating. And you aren’t saying anything.

      Reply
      1. Woopy doo

        Forest I’m saying people are over it and just like doctors they are over prescribing to protect their A$$. This thing is over and dumb. Open up safely and let’s move on. If you don’t like it then stay home.

        Reply
        1. forest

          If it’s over and dumb, and let’s move on, then why is the US making such a big scene out of blaming China? It makes no sense to blame China for spreading an imaginary pandemic. Is Trump just protecting his political A$$ by overprescribing the blame on China? The absurdities, contradictions, and mixed signals coming out of the White House leave the more discerning among us deferring to the views of experts and not political hacks.

          Reply
  12. BST

    I agree about absurdities and contradictions & mixed signals . You’re absolutely right .
    Even more so why SOME of us are over it and want to really live our life while we can . And yes I was saying something which was Hank should live in a basement since he is so afraid . No one is tying to force anyone in such fear to go out and live – plain and simple hide out and enjoy 🙂

    Reply
    1. James K

      Correct BST…If they open things, the people that don’t feel safe, don’t have to go out. Those people need to stop trying to tell other people, that want to move on, how to live their lives.

      Reply
  13. Martine

    Nice tour! You are really lucky and have good connections to be granted access to the casino floor. Wonder if the lights and TVs were turned on especially for you.

    Reply

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