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Las Vegas Casinos Are Open, But Visitors Staying Away

Las Vegas casinos reopened in early June after they were forced to temporarily shutter in March because of the coronavirus. But the gaming floors have remained relatively deserted since the slots were turned back on.

Las Vegas is back open, but not like it was pre-coronavirus. (Image: John Locher/AP)

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) says visitor volume totaled a little more than one million people in June. That’s down 70.5 percent from June 2019.

Of the 1,065,100 people who did venture to the region, not a one did so for convention business purposes. With daily new COVID-19 cases continuing to rise throughout the month — and in July — Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) continues to limit indoor gatherings, keeping convention and exhibitions off-limits.

June is traditionally a busy month for Las Vegas, as schools let out and leisure travelers and families get their summer vacations underway. However, after 78 days of being closed, Sin City casinos had little trouble in abiding their state-ordered 50 percent occupancy limits.

Through the first half of 2020, Las Vegas visitor volume stands at 9.7 million — a 54 percent decline. Approximately 11.4 million fewer people have arrived in town in the last six months, compared with the same period in 2019.

Every large convention for the remainder of 2020 has been postponed or canceled, and adding to the bad near-term outlook, the Las Vegas Raiders announced this past week that the team’s inaugural season will be played without fans in Allegiant Stadium.

Luring Travelers

June’s visitor volume is down 70.5 percent. But it’s nonetheless an improvement on May when volume totaled just 151,300 — a 96 percent year-over-year plunge.

It’s not that the casino resorts aren’t trying. Numerous properties along the Strip and elsewhere are offering varying incentives to bring back tourists. From the temporary release of resort fees (Sahara, M Resort), to deeply discounted rooms at every major casino property, the gaming industry is doing what it can.

MGM Resorts, which operates the most casino properties in Las Vegas, launched an advertising blitz this past week that seeks to attract remote workers to its resorts. “Viva Las Office” is tailored to those not accustomed to working from home who need a change of scenery. The program provides food and beverage credits per night, early and late checkouts, and credits to fly private on JSX.

Speaking of JSX, one of its main partners is Wynn Resorts. Last week, the casino operator announced the most unheard-of hotel deal for a luxury Las Vegas resort: weekend buy-on/get-one (BOGO) deals.

Prices for a Wynn room started at just $155 (plus $45/night resort fee) for this weekend. Those who booked a room received a second night free (exclusive of taxes and resort fee).

“When you’re sort of overcome with melancholy seeing a BOGO offer. From Wynn. On a weekend,” Vital Vegas commented on the promo.

Critical Marketing 

The LVCVA has been criticized in years past for what some believe is an exorbitant operating budget. Critics say Las Vegas sells itself, a notion the authority has continually rejected.

In the COVID-era, the authority certainly has a chance to prove its naysayers wrong, as the task ahead is certainly tall.

In June, the LVCVA extended its decades-long advertising contract with R&R Partners for a year. The contract was up for bidding, but the agency extended its R&R deal in the wake of the pandemic.

R&R was given a $110 million war chest to develop and produce marketing spots around the country. The money is also used to secure the media buys.

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