My Perception of the Reopening of a Las Vegas Casino

Governor Sisolak has issued an order for Nevada's non-essential businesses, including casinos, to remain closed until at least May 1. However, in my opinion, it is highly likely that this date will be extended to May 21. Interestingly, this is the day after the Clark County School District's scheduled end of the year, and I don't anticipate that schools will reopen until the fall. This gradual approach appears to be a sensible strategy in order to mitigate risks and ensure the safe return of Las Vegas to its former glory.

It's important to understand that just because the governor gives the go-ahead for casinos to reopen, it won't instantly restore Las Vegas to its pre-pandemic glory. We can't expect a quick fix or a miraculous solution. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will linger for quite some time, perhaps even stretching out for months or even years. We need to be prepared for a long road to recovery, with its fair share of challenges and obstacles. So, while the reopening of casinos may be a step in the right direction, we must remain realistic about the time it will take to fully bounce back from this lingering hangover.

Las Vegas can possibly take cues from Macau on what a potential reopening might entail. After being shut down for a span of two weeks in February, the biggest gambling market globally, Macau, experienced a staggering 79.7 percent drop in gaming revenues for the month of March. This decline in revenue serves as a glimpse into the possible aftermath of a reopening for the Las Vegas strip.

The reopening of Las Vegas Strip casinos will not happen simultaneously.

In my opinion, it would be delusional to assume that Las Vegas will return to normal immediately when it reopens. The absence of the convention segment, which usually fills hotels and restaurants on weekdays, will continue for several months. Once conventions start to resume, it will be a gradual and slow process to restore things to their usual state. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has already begun rescheduling the first batch of events that were canceled, targeting the late summer months.

Hotel operators have the ability to assess the level of demand by analyzing the volume of reservations made through their online platforms. This valuable information enables each business to strategically plan and make informed decisions regarding the optimal approach to take for each individual property within their portfolio.

Indefinitely, the lack of convention business will significantly reduce the demand for hotel rooms and amenities in Las Vegas. Consequently, casinos that primarily serve this particular market segment are less appealing for reopening compared to those that primarily cater to leisure travelers.

Connected by a corridor and tram, Luxor and Excalibur may also be affected by the closure of Mandalay Bay's convention space. Without utilizing this dedicated area, there seems to be little incentive to reopen the property early in the process. This situation could potentially spell bad news for the mentioned establishments as well.

Mirage, situated in a secluded area away from other MGM Resorts establishments, could potentially be considered for a delayed reopening. It is possible that a few hotels within the company, upon resumption of operations, may choose to operate only one of their towers.

It appears that Caesars Entertainment will face a challenging task ahead. The close proximity of all its casinos on the Strip will require some careful decision-making. It is possible that they will opt to reopen all the casino floors, but take a staggered approach when it comes to the hotels. This could mean opening just one tower at each property or maintaining fuller operations at only a select few. Personally, I find the latter option to be more probable.

When the green light is given, I believe that the majority of independent operators on the Strip will eagerly reopen. However, their focus will primarily be on reopening the casino floor and hotel, as they anticipate that it will take some time before there is sufficient demand to reintroduce other amenities.

When hotels finally resume operations, it seems quite certain that certain areas within the premises will still be off-limits. Late to reopen will be shows, spas, upscale dining experiences, and the much-beloved buffet spreads.

Downtown Las Vegas

I believe that downtown Las Vegas, unlike the Strip, does not rely heavily on conventions for its success. When the governor gives permission, I think most of downtown Las Vegas will resume operations. Due to its smaller hotels and the perception of it offering good value for leisure gamblers, it is well-positioned for a strong recovery.

I believe the three Boyd properties might be the only exceptions to the current situation. Perhaps the casino floors will resume operations, while most of the other amenities remain closed. It's possible that only one or two of the hotels will start welcoming guests again. However, this outcome may depend on Hawaii easing its travel restrictions at the same time that Las Vegas reopens.

In terms of multiple properties under one ownership downtown, Four Queens and Binion's stand as the only other redundant pair. However, there isn't much change to anticipate at Binion's as its hotel is mostly closed. A wait-and-see approach might be adopted by Hugo's Cellar, as well as other high-end dining options in downtown.

Locals casinos

The impact of dwindling tourism seems to have the smallest effect on neighborhood casinos. From what I gather, these establishments are likely to resume normal operations, including reopening their casino floors and all necessary amenities. In fact, there might even be a chance of witnessing a few of them fully reopening.

In my opinion, there are certain cases where reopening on time may not be feasible due to internal redundancies within a company. Take, for instance, the decision faced by Station Casinos, where reopening Wildfire, Texas Station, Fiesta Rancho, and Santa Fe Station simultaneously might prove to be a challenging call.

Locals taverns

I anticipate that almost all neighborhood drinking establishments will resume operations once they are permitted to do so. In the rare case where a tavern does not reopen, it is likely due to financial considerations rather than any other factor. The desire for taverns is expected to bounce back swiftly and approach a level that is close to what was considered normal before.

Social distancing policies

As soon as the casinos reopen, you can anticipate certain changes on the floors. There will be a deliberate effort to maintain a safe distance between players, ensuring that the minimum spacing is adhered to. It is highly likely that every other slot machine will be deactivated, leaving some slots dark. Additionally, you should expect some seats to be removed from table games, as this will ensure that only three players are allowed per table. These precautionary measures are aimed at prioritizing the safety and well-being of all visitors to the casinos.

Poker lounges and betting platforms.

In my opinion, when casinos finally reopen, the last gaming amenities to resume operations will likely be poker rooms. It is logical to assume that the first poker rooms to reopen will be the ones that closed last. Bravo Poker reports that South Point dealt the final live poker hand in Las Vegas before the shutdown. The Boyd and Station properties also continued dealing poker games almost until the very end. Therefore, it is highly probable that these establishments will be the first to resume poker operations once given the green light. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even when poker rooms reopen, they will most likely implement the same policies of limiting the number of players at each table and no tournaments will be held in the foreseeable future.

Opening up sportsbooks at this time doesn't seem all that necessary. Perhaps a few establishments will run with a manager jotting down bets for the less popular sports currently available. Additionally, there could be bettors eager to cash out their locked funds from mobile applications during the shutdown. However, it is highly unlikely that sportsbooks will fully resume operations until a significant US sporting event returns, unless there is a substantial fan base for horse racing and there are still races happening.

The prestigious poker event known as the World Series of Poker takes place at the iconic Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.

In my opinion, this year's World Series of Poker won't take place as usual. The group seems to be taking a cautious approach, opting to make a decision at the very last moment. They want to ensure that potential attendees can receive complete refunds for their travel expenses, so there's no harm in delaying the announcement. It's likely that the dates will be rescheduled and the series itself will be shortened. From my observation, numerous events will be moved to their online poker platform, which has experienced a surge of new players over the past few weeks.

The impact on Rio goes beyond the disappointment of canceling the summer WSOP. Like many resorts along the Strip, Rio heavily relies on conventions for its business. However, these events may not fully resume for another year, dealing a significant blow to the two-year leaseback agreement. The absence of conventions deeply affects Rio's financial stability and long-term prospects. Losing out on this key source of revenue amplifies the challenges the resort faces in this uncertain time.

In my opinion, Rio may be facing a grim future unless there is a significant shift in the COVID-19 situation within the next month. If the series gets cut short or pushed back to the end of summer, I don't believe it is necessary for it to take place at Rio. The mezzanine at Planet Hollywood could serve as a suitable alternative venue. Moreover, the company's convention centers offer ample space that can accommodate the event. However, if the COVID-19 outlook remains unchanged due to the sale and the two-year leaseback term, there is a real possibility that Rio may never reopen. Therefore, it is crucial for the situation to improve soon if Rio is to survive.