Vegas News May 3, 2020
For a few weeks, it looked as though there wouldn’t be much Vegas news to share. Well, that concern is over. There should be lots of news now that Las Vegas has a “roadmap to recovery.” This is a multi-tiered plan to reopen the entire state. There’s one important thing to know before you read this plan – there is no opening date for casinos yet. Onto the first installment of Vegas News May!
This week we’ll use a different format for Vegas News. The post will start with a few bullet points highlighting major news. Then we’ll dive deeper into the specific topics. Additionally, there will be some extra Boyd Gaming and MGM Resorts news from their respective earnings calls this week. There’s a lot of info so let’s get to it.
Headlines – Vegas News May
- Nevada has a reopening plan (no opening dates)
- MGM and Boyd announce plans to open casinos during earnings calls (no opening dates)
- Station Casinos announces phased openings (no opening dates)
- Nevada gaming sets social distancing protocols for casinos (no opening dates for casinos)
- Venetian has a health and safety guide (no opening dates)
Bellagio & New York-New York Will Be The First MGM Resorts Las Vegas Casinos To Reopen
During its first-quarter earnings call, acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle at MGM Resorts International said the company will open its casinos in phases as governments around the country allow. All MGM Resorts casino openings around the US are still to be determined.
Las Vegas casinos will open in phases as well. Bellagio and New York-New York will be the first to open. Bellagio will open for the guests looking for luxury property. This allows MGM Resorts to offer a competing casino to Wynn and The Venetian when they open.
New York-New York will open as the first lower-priced MGM Resorts property in Las Vegas. This is also an easier property to manage since there are only just over 2,000 rooms. Another casino could open depending on demand.
Not every venue will open inside of these casinos. Restaurants and bars will open based on demand. There will likely be new takeout dining options available at each property. MGM will share its health and safety plan will be revealed in the next couple of weeks.
Casino floors are being reconfigured to adhere to new social distancing guidelines that were released on Friday. MGM Resorts is already changing out the carpet at Aria and Park MGM in preparation for a new casino floor layout. It’s possible these could be the next MGM Resorts casinos to open but that hasn’t been announced. I’m just guessing here.
Health & Safety For Gaming Operations
Let’s take a break from MGM Resorts to look at some of the new health and safety regulations for gaming operations released by the Nevada Gaming Commission. Overall occupancy of casino floors when properties reopen must not be more than 50% of what used to be allowed. In order to achieve this goal, casinos can allow the following number of players at certain games.
Casino Floor – Achieving Occupany Goals (50% capacity)
- Slot machines: Every other game will be available
- Blackjack: 3 players per table
- Craps: 6 players per table
- Roulette: 4 players per table
- Poker: 4 players per table
I’ve seen more than a few people mention that many poker rooms won’t reopen until they can offer games for more players. That’s not my world so I won’t speculate on that. There’s a lot more detail in the full document if you’re curious to learn more. For example, nightclubs and dayclubs cannot open yet.
MGM Resorts Sports & Live Entertainment
During its earnings call, MGM Resorts reps mentioned that they look forward to live events coming back. However, they’d also like to see their venues used for televised events even if there’s nobody in attendance.
Not much was made about this comment until Friday when the NY Times shared a specific idea. MGM Resorts sent a proposal to the NBA that “envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want.”
Mandalay Bay would be ground zero for this with over 4,000 hotel rooms. The article states that up to 24 basketball courts could be built inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Hotel staff would all remain quarantined by living at the Luxor.
This would have been a strange idea two months ago. Now it looks like this kind of situation may be a reality. As an NBA bettor, I’d love to see this kind of quarantine city for sports in any location if I can watch and wager on games all day and night. Of course, the setup has to be safe for everyone involved.
During the earnings call, Hornbuckle mentioned that he doesn’t expect to see any sold-out concerts with 15,000 people at T-Mobile Arena for a while. This would also mean no UFC, hockey, boxing, basketball, etc. with an audience.
He did mention that smaller shows like Carrot Top should be among the first shows to return to MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas. The large scale shows like Cirque du Soliel will return later.
Boyd Gaming To Open Locals Casino First
Boyd Gaming reported earnings on Tuesday. During the call, the company mentioned that the Las Vegas locals properties (Aliante, Cannery, Gold Coast, The Orleans, Sam’s Town, Suncoast) will open as soon as Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak allows.
The company mentioned they will take a more pragmatic approach to its downtown Las Vegas properties (The Cal, Fremont, Main Street Station). They will monitor travel from Hawaii as that’s a big revenue generator for these properties. They’ll also keep an eye on Fremont Street traffic to see if there’s demand.
Much like MGM Resorts, not all bars and restaurants will be available when Boyd reopens. The company also hasn’t decided on the future of the buffets at its properties.
One interesting note during the earnings call is that Boyd’s local casino customers are largely senior citizens. The retired customers didn’t have jobs before coronavirus so they shouldn’t see a change in spending as their income shouldn’t be as affected as younger guests who may have lost a job. This makes sense if you visit Boyd casinos but it’s not a topic that’s been addressed in recent earnings calls.
Palms Not Part Of The First Phase Of Station Casinos Opening Plan
Station Casinos released a press release with its opening plan. I’ll just quote the press release because it’s straight forward:
“The Company announced that it expects to reopen its Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Palace Station and Sunset Station properties, together with its Wildfire division properties, when permitted to do so by governmental authorities.”
There’s a wait and see approach for the other Station properties, “The Company also announced that it will assess the performance of the first-to-reopen properties before reopening its Palms Casino Resort, Texas Station, Fiesta Henderson, and Fiesta Rancho properties.”
Palms Casino Resort not opening in the first phase makes sense. You may remember that it was bleeding money since before KAOS closed in November. Additionally, Palms is a casino geared towards tourists and convention guests – not locals.
During the Boyd earnings call the company mentioned that they expect to see more local residents at casinos around the country when they reopen. Boyd even mentioned that they’re feeling pent up excitement from locals just looking for somewhere to go close to home. Station likely has a similar sense of its guests.
Earnings Quick Hits
I listen to earnings calls so you don’t have to. Here are a few more notes I took during the Boyd and MGM Resorts earnings calls:
- This was the first earnings call for MGM’s Bill Hornbuckle. He sounded a little nervous at first but loosened up and offer lots of useful information as the call continued.
- Both MGM and Boyd mentioned that consumer confidence is the key to reopening. Expect very explicit details on how both companies will make guests feel comfortable.
- MGM Resorts will have a health and safety plan within two weeks.
- Both companies said that business for the first two months was much stronger than expected. Caesars said the same.
- MGM Resorts expects to see leisure travel to return before large groups.
- MGM has put Raiders pregame parties on hold in case games are played without fans.
- Here’s an interesting quote from the Boyd call – “How we open these properties (when they reopen) will probably not be how they look in the long term….” “this isn’t a permanent situation.”
- Lastly, MGM Resorts is restructuring its executive staff around the country. Read more here.
General Las Vegas Quick Hits
Reopening Las Vegas was the big news of the week but there’s more! Here are a few more articles and documents to fulfill all of your Vegas needs.
- The Venetian shared its new health and safety plan. You can read about Venetian Clean here.
- Will casinos expand patio seating at their restaurants? I’m all about dining al fresco and think the patio at Prime at Bellagio might be where I eat my next steak. Read more here.
- Resorts World has revealed some of its dining options. This could all change when the property opens in 2027. Anyway, read more here.
- Downtown Grand won an award for housekeeping. Read more here.
- EVO at Mandalay Bay has been canceled and will be held online this year. Read more here.
- Zippy’s ain’t opening in Las Vegas. Read more here.
- GameCo passed a field trial for its Video Game Gambling Machines. Read more here.
- Last but not least, I used to drive by Ricardo’s often when I was first looking for a place to live in Las Vegas. The restaurant is closing after 40 years and I’ll miss the landmark. Read more here.
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