MGM Resorts, Casino

MGM offered free COVID tests during its grand re-opening and allowed players to bet on the results.

“We want people to get tested, sure. But mostly we want them to gamble immediately,” said Diane Duane, head of guest relations.

“I’m addicted to gambling, so risking my health just adds to the thrill,” said Gina Jones, of Idaho Falls, Idaho. “I drove here overnight, but I’m also addicted to uppers, so it was easy. Drove real fast. Clipped a drifter, but it was worth it.”

Not everyone came to gamble.

“We do have some people showing up because the casino is their only source of health care,” said Duane. “Desert people. They arrive dressed like extras from a Mad Max movie. I try to tell them we’re not a health care company, but since we’re taking money to gamble on health, we kind of are.”

Chuck Choda took his family in for the test. “Normally we shelter on the edge of the Air Force test bombing range,” he said. “Out near Indian Springs, in a cave with stolen cable. The only gambling we got is if I’ll recover from a rattlesnake bite. But when I heard MGM was offering free tests, I thought ‘dang, the virus is real’ and I agreed to take the family to town.”

“Only bad thing that happened,” Chuck said, “is we were walking on the side of the road and I got clipped by a maniac with Idaho plates. Hurt way worse than a snake bite. But at least I can find out if I have COVID.”

Chuck’s test came up positive. He will be quarantined for 14 days. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” he said. “And I’m staying in Vegas.”

But it wasn’t long before he was able to turn his luck around.

“Now people come up to my room before their test and pay me to sneeze on them,” he said. “Everyone likes a sure thing.”