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Las Vegas casino operators relieved after stimulus bill signed

Updated March 27, 2020 - 6:49 pm

Most Las Vegas casino operators said Friday the $2 trillion stimulus bill provides needed relief for the battered hospitality industry.

Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered casinos among non-essential businesses to close for 30 days on March 17.

The Nevada Resort Association said last week that it would be unsustainable for companies to provide wages and benefits during an extended closure period. Lost business due to the shutdown already put 320,000 employees relying on $1.3 billion in wages and salary payments each month at immediate risk, the NRA said.

“Our goal is to reopen our doors and get employees back to work as soon as public health and safety allow. These provisions help pave the way for that outcome,” said MGM spokesman Brian Ahern.

Under the relief package, Nevada casinos are eligible to tap into roughly $450 billion in government loans designed to protect workers from layoffs and keep large companies solvent. Meanwhile, the package allows all eligible workers to get unemployment for an additional 13 weeks, making unemployed Nevadans able to draw payments for 39 weeks — through the end of December — instead of 26 weeks.

“We are pleased the economic relief package offers financial support immediately,” Ahern said.

Earlier this month, the company furloughed and laid off a number of employees and said it would provide pay for two weeks with health benefits through June 30.

MGM Resorts said several tax provisions in the stimulus package will help the company keep some cash on hand, including the payroll tax deferral and employee retention tax credit provisions. The company said it doesn’t expect to use any federal loans.

Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman David Strow said “this package will provide much-needed assistance to our communities, team members, customers and business partners” but added that it’s too early to speculate on whether the company will apply for federal assistance.

The company said Friday that all full-time and part-time workers will continue to receive pay and existing benefits coverage through April 10. The company has about 10,000 employees in Las Vegas.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokesman Rich Broome said impacted employees receive pay through around April 3. Accumulated paid time off can be used after that and company health benefits will run through June 30.

“We believe the worker and family assistance elements of the legislation were necessary, especially if there is a prolonged closure of our properties which we hope is not the case,” he said.

Broome said it was too early to say whether Caesars would apply for federal loans or whether the stimulus package is enough.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman Ron Reese said Thursday the company definitely would not apply for federal assistance. The company said earlier this month no layoffs were being considered and pay and health care benefits would continue during the closure.

Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson “made calls to Washington to push for investments in small and medium-sized businesses, as he realizes these businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Reese told the Review-Journal of the stimulus bill. “He did not lobby for passage of any particular version of the stimulus or for the gaming industry specifically. We have no plans to seek government loans.”

Spokesmen for Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Station Casinos did not respond to a request for comment.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow@Nicole0Raz on Twitter.

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