Las Vegas Casino Execs Optimistic for Convention Business Recovery

Posted on: March 2, 2021, 11:47h. 

Last updated on: March 2, 2021, 01:24h.

Las Vegas hasn’t held a major convention in roughly a year. But casino executives are hopeful that will change in the coming months. They’re also confident that Southern Nevada will remain a premiere destination for large-scale business exhibitions.

Las Vegas convention event casino hotel
Convention attendees at the Cowboy Christmas show in December of 2017 explore the floor. Las Vegas casinos believe such large indoor events will soon resume. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The next major trade show in Las Vegas isn’t until the World of Concrete exhibition, which is set for June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The annual gathering brings more than 60,000 visitors invested in the commercial concrete industry to town.

Las Vegas casino leaders believe the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will lead to rollbacks on restrictions prohibiting large indoor gatherings.

During MGM’s full-year earnings call last month, CEO Bill Hornbuckle revealed that there are several large conferences that are eager to return to MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas.

“I’m hoping by end of spring, as we go into June, we’ll see yet another significant rollback [on restrictions] as we get ready for events,” Hornbuckle added.

Casinos Need Conventions

Leisure travelers keep Las Vegas hotel rooms occupied on the weekends, but it’s conventions that do so through the week. Executives and analysts in the gaming industry are betting on robust pent-up demand that will bring back leisure visitors. Determining whether conventions will return as quickly isn’t as known.

However, bookings suggest that businesses are ready to get back to in-person meetings.

Group and convention room nights on the books for the second half of 2021 versus 2019 are currently pacing up over 30 percent,” said Anthony Carano, president and chief operating officer of Caesars Entertainment. “We are seeing good growth rate as well.”

Carano conceded, however, that future business remains uncertain. “But the strength of forward bookings tells us that our customers are anxious to return to Las Vegas,” he explained.

Current Indoor Restrictions

Nevada convention and meeting spaces remain under strict regulations issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Indoor events are limited to 35 percent of the venue’s fire code capacity, or 100 individuals, whichever is less.

Come March 15, Sisolak is set to further ease guidance on indoor events. Assuming there are no setbacks in combating COVID-19, indoor capacity limits will increase to 50 percent of fire code capacity, or 250 individuals, whichever is less.

Sisolak revealed this week that Nevada will soon receive 24,000 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. The rollout of the latest vaccine has caused Wall Street enthusiasm, as well as bullishness on gaming industry stocks.

The VanEck Vectors Gaming ETF is up nearly 14 percent over the past 30 days.