Golden Gate, Circa Sports Owner Stevens Buys 1,000 Vegas Plane Tickets, Ballasts Sin City Reopening

Posted on: May 27, 2020, 11:33h. 

Last updated on: May 27, 2020, 12:07h.

With Nevada gaming properties targeting a June 4 reopening, some operators are stepping up in a bid to lure tourists back to Las Vegas. Derek Stevens, the owner of Circa Sports, the D Las Vegas, and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, is buying 1,000 seats on various airlines from a slew of cities to get folks back to Sin City.

Las Vegas Customer Lures Planned
Gaming executive Derek Stevens, seen here with his wife, Nicole, and reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson in 2017, is buying 1,000 plane tickets to get folks back to Las Vegas. (Image: Twitter)

The gaming mogul’s airfare purchases include seats on 29 flights from 24 cities on dates ranging from June 3 to June 5., where would-be travelers can attempt to book flights under the promotion, doesn’t mention specific airlines. Southwest is the largest carrier offering Sin City flights, while Allegiant is the lone member of the industry based in the gaming hub.

Stevens made the announcement in a video posted to Twitter earlier today, using the hashtags #KeepAmericaFlying #KeepLasVegasRolling #Vegas.

I want to welcome you back to Las Vegas, and in doing so, we’re buying 1,000 flights from various cities around the country on a number of airlines,” said Stevens. “It’s on us.”

The gaming executive said he and his team would like travelers taking him up on the flight offers to stay at the D or the Golden Gate, but that’s not a requirement.

Brisk Demand

Underscoring the notion that there’s pent-up demand by gamblers to return to casinos, a theme seen throughout the country in recent days as some regional and tribal casinos reopened, flights offered by Stevens flew off the shelves.

At this writing, 24 of the flights offered are marked as “full” on the D web site. The airline industry, probably even more so than its gaming counterpart, is being punished by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Carriers are furloughing or laying off thousands of workers, grounding jets, and scrapping routes, while borrowing money from the federal government to ensure their survival.

Over the course of the pandemic, analysts said it would take longer for Las Vegas to rebound compared to regional markets, because gamblers would be more comfortable driving to casinos rather than flying in the wake of the virus. However, data suggest that thesis could prove inaccurate, as the recovery in bookings is beating expectations.

“There’s already evidence that a recovery in bookings is underway. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported a big jump in the number of daily commercial air passengers last week (last week of April),” according to  Global Investors.

Gaming industry executives are noting a recovery in the airline business is essential to Las Vegas’s rebound efforts. That’s reflected in Stevens’ offering, as just two of the cities on the list – Phoenix and San Diego – are manageable drives to Las Vegas.

Other Promotions

Other operators are making efforts to win back customers following the coronavirus. For example, Caesars and MGM Resorts, the two largest operators on the Strip, eliminated parking fees. Additionally, even higher-end integrated resorts, such as Bellagio, Cosmopolitan, and Wynn, will offer steep discounts on rooms to lure back travelers.

However, to date, no operator is going as far as Stevens.

“We’re just trying to do our share to keep America flyin’, keep Las Vegas rollin’,” he said in the video.