Gaming Business

Encore’s Midweek Dark Days in Las Vegas Make Business Sense: Casino Expert

Encore hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of low demand. The coronavirus-related reason for this is unfortunate, but makes business sense, a gaming expert says.

Encore hotel-casino is seen here on the Las Vegas Strip beside Wynn Las Vegas. Encore is closed midweek became of low demand. (Image: Los Angeles Times)

Industry veteran Alan Feldman said he is unaware of anything like the Encore midweek shutdown ever happening. Encore and another Wynn Resorts property, Wynn Las Vegas, are side-by-side on the Las Vegas Strip. They were built on the site of the now-demolished Desert Inn hotel-casino.

“Encore and Wynn form a ‘campus’ of sorts,” Feldman told Casino.org in an email. “Their buildings are attached and while they generally operate as separate entities, there is, in fact, much that can be done jointly.”

Feldman is the Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming at UNLV’s International Gaming Institute. He noted that while Encore is closed for part of the week, Wynn Las Vegas is continuing to operate on a seven-day schedule.

In a sense, one could view this as Wynn simply closing a portion of its property based on demand,” Feldman told Casino.org. “While the reasons are unfortunate, it makes perfect business sense.”

Wynn Resorts recently announced that Encore only would be open from Thursdays at 2 pm until Mondays at noon. The new schedule began this Monday. The property will resume its previous schedule when consumer demand increases.

As coronavirus infection rates began to soar in March, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered casinos and most other businesses statewide to close. He allowed casinos to reopen on June 4 with health measures in place.

Since then, tourism has been slow to recover. Figures released by McCarran International Airport indicate a sharp decline in tourism compared to pre-pandemic numbers. From August 2019 to August 2020, airline passenger arrival and departure totals were down by 56 percent.

Concerns About Vegas Violence

In addition to lower tourism totals, concern has also arisen about an increase in violence on the Las Vegas Strip. Gunfire in recent weeks has left several people wounded at or near major hotel-casinos on the famous resort corridor.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said this violence could hurt tourism if ignored. But he stressed police are stepping up their presence on the Strip and other tourism areas. Lombardo is the elected sheriff who oversees the combined city-county Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

In some instances, hotel-casinos are tightening their own in-house security. Wynn Resorts has added a K-9 team and an additional number of security officers to patrol its Encore and Wynn Las Vegas properties.

A fight at Encore in early September caused an estimated $15,000 in damage. In response, a Wynn Resorts spokesperson said the company would raise room rates and enhance its security procedures.

Circa’s Grand Opening

As officials address these issues, one property in Las Vegas is set for a grand opening next week, suggesting confidence in the gaming economy.

Circa Resort in downtown Las Vegas is scheduled to begin operating early Wednesday. The property’s gaming areas will open next week. Hotel rooms won’t be available until the end of the year, owner Derek Stevens said.

The resort is at the western end of historic Fremont Street, where the Las Vegas Club and other smaller properties once stood.

Circa is an adults-only resort. A steakhouse in the basement is the only place anyone under age 21 will be allowed. Security guards will escort those under 21 in and out of the steakhouse.

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Larry Henry