Updated March 31, 2020 - 5:36 pm
Nevada’s 30-day casino shutdown is set to end April 16, and some Las Vegas properties are accepting bookings for the following day.
The exact opening dates for these properties are still unclear. Websites for Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. on Tuesday had rooms available starting April 17. Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s rooms were available on April 20 as of Tuesday morning, but closures have since been extended through April 30. MGM Resorts International, Red Rock Resorts and Boyd Gaming Corp.’s websites don’t offer bookings until May 1.
Whether the properties will be able to fill those rooms on the heels of the shutdown is up for debate.
“I think (tourists will return) in waves,” Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero said. “They’ll have to feel safe, and the economic impacts of this (outbreak) will have effects on travel.”
Room rate deals
As of March 25, all commercial casinos in the U.S. had been shut down temporarily, according to the American Gaming Association.
Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said that while the company’s website allows customers to book a stay starting April 17, it’s possible the closures will be extended. The company has not established an opening date for its Las Vegas properties.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sands pushed back the date it would start accepting reservations to May 1, but said the date is subject to change.
“The health and safety of our team members, guests and community remain a top priority,” according to a statement from the company.
When Las Vegas properties do start accepting guests again, guests can probably expect lower room rates, according to Aguero.
Operators are going to “try to increase occupancy, and pricing is going to be a lever,” he said. “We’ve seen operators use this (strategy) in the past, and we have every expectation they’ll utilize it in the future.”
According to company websites, a stay at Caesars Palace on April 17 starts at $99. MGM’s Mandalay Bay offers the same starting price on May 1.
A stay at Wynn starts at $259 on April 17, whereas a room at The Venetian starts at $119.25 on April 20. Red Rock’s Palms has rooms starting at $79 on May 1, and Boyd’s Aliante offers rooms starting at $150 on the same date.
Representatives of Caesars, Red Rock and Boyd did not return requests for comment.
Representatives of MGM referred to a statement on the company’s website, which says MGM “will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any changes,” adding “while we look forward to getting back to the business of entertaining you soon, right now we are singularly focused on the well-being of our employees and our visitors from around the world.”
The U.S. hotel industry is projected to report a 50.6 decline in revenue per available room — or REVPAR — in 2020 due to the pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, according to a March report — that excluded the Las Vegas market — from analytics company STR and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company.
“The industry was already set for a non-growth year, now throw in this ultimate ‘black swan’ event, and we’re set to see occupancy drop to an unprecedented low,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior vice president of lodging insights, in a March 30 statement.
Aguero said it’s too early to tell how Las Vegas’ tourism industry and REVPAR will be affected by the outbreak; it all depends on how long the outbreak’s effects last and how hard it hits the local tourism industry.
“There are some scenarios that turn out better than that, and there are also those that turn out worse,” he said. “It’s going to be the trajectory of the virus that’s the determining factor for the trajectory of the tourism industry. … When are people going to feel comfortable traveling again? Comfortable being in groups?”
A survey from research firm The Harris Poll, conducted the weekend of March 21, found about 15 percent of Americans say they’d wait another two to three months after the virus flattens before they’re comfortable enough to visit a casino.
But others are already planning to return as soon as possible.
Portland, Oregon, resident Makayla Melton said she jumped on $96.80 round-trip tickets in mid-May for a five-day stay at Luxor.
She said she hopes the Nevada casino shutdown isn’t extended — this would be her first trip to Las Vegas, and she plans to lounge by the pool, visit casinos — “all the typical Vegas things.”
She said she feels “OK” about flying during the outbreak and would take extra precautions when traveling.
“I’ll be careful, but I wanted to jump at the opportunity since everything was so cheap,” she said, adding she’s not holding her breath. “The trip could be canceled last minute, but if it’s not it’ll be a lot of fun.”
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands Corp. operates The Venetian and Palazzo.