The hits keep on coming to the Vegas economy. As blackjack players can attest, too many “hits” can lead to a losing hand. Few places have been hit harder than Las Vegas economically, where the leisure and hospitality industry means more than any other major city in the country. Over the weekend, Stations Casinos, the Westgate Las Vegas and MGM Resorts International made announcements that indicate the Silver State is far from “On The Road to Recovery” anytime soon.
Las Vegas casinos have been closed for 47 days and with every passing day the impact is “quietly destroying” the very fabric of family life here in the valley. The WestGate, which has gained national notoriety among sports bettors for their NFL SuperContest, announced via their website that they will now remain closed until Thursday, June 18th, 2020.
"Westgate’s main priority continues to be the health and safety of all our guests, team members, and the community," the website states. "We are grateful to our local and state government, law enforcement, health care workers and the community at large for working tirelessly to protect Nevada residents and their families."
Meanwhile, Station Casinos, which employs nearly 14,000 people, announced the company is laying off a “significant” number of both property and corporate employees.
“We have tried to retain our entire team, but in the face of this continued uncertainty we can no longer do so,” CEO and Chairman Frank Fertitta III said in a letter they sent to staff.
Fertitta announced plans to reopen Station Casinos’ properties “in phases,” with Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Santa Fe, Boulder Station, Palace Station and Sunset Station reportedly to be the first to open their doors. Meanwhile, the Palms, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station will reopen after the company is able to assess their bottom line “in a post-COVID-19 world.”
“When we are permitted to reopen, we don’t know what business will look like, other than knowing that business levels will be lower as a result of this unprecedented crisis”, said Fertitta.
Back in March, Stations had announced that they would “continue to offer regular pay and health benefits to all of its hourly and salaried full-time members through April, 30, 2020.”
I personally know a couple who were both employed by Stations Casinos for nearly a decade and the news of being fired simultaneously is a catastrophic blow both emotionally and financially.
MGM Resorts International also laid off several high-level executives after CEO Bill Hornbuckle revealed in an earnings call that the company is losing an estimated $270 million each month its properties remain closed. Among the cuts were a quartet of hotel presidents (Bellagio, NYNY, Luxor and Excalibur). These aren’t the first job cuts at MGM since the strip was ordered to shut down as the company has laid off 63,000 workers over the last few weeks alone in an effort to preserve liquidity.
Hornbuckle also added that only two of their Vegas hotels, the Bellagio and New York-New York would reopen immediately after the shutdown is lifted. There is no timetable for re-openings on any of MGM’s other strip properties.
Gov. Steve Sisolak’s “Stay At Home For Nevada” directive has been extended through May 15. Casinos will not be part of “Phase 1” of the reopening process. However, it appears that leaders in the casino industry know more about the duration of closures than is being released to local communities. There has been no definitive reopening date, only the statement that “reopening casinos will be part of the state's later phases, depending on the spread of the coronavirus.”