MGM Resorts Considers Midweek Closures As Las Vegas Tourism Remains Tepid

Posted on: October 30, 2020, 12:52h. 

Last updated on: October 30, 2020, 01:56h.

MGM Resorts is thinking of shutting down some Las Vegas casinos during the middle of the week, the company says. This comes during a pandemic-related decline in tourism.

Bill Hornbuckle
MGM’s CEO Bill Hornbuckle, seen here, says the company is considering which properties to close or keep open possibly through the holiday season. MGM Resorts owns 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International’s CEO, said the company is “going through an exercise” in deciding what to keep open or close, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

The company owns 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, many on the west side of the famed resort corridor. These include the Mirage, Bellagio, and Excalibur.

There are certain amenities, certain towers, certain brands, potentially, that could face closure from mid-November — give or take — through the holiday season,” Hornbuckle said this week during an earnings call with investors and analysts.

A company spokesman later told the newspaper in an email that this probably would involve just midweek closures rather than completely shutting down properties.

On the conference call Thursday, the company reported third-quarter results that missed Wall Street estimates. MGM Resorts lost $1.08 a share from July through September. Analysts expected a loss of $1.06 per share. The company’s net loss during the quarter was $535 million.

Slow Tourism Economy

With airline travel in steep decline, Las Vegas has felt the impact of a sluggish tourism economy since the onset of the pandemic in March. Arrivals and departures at McCarran International Airport dropped by more than 60 percent in September 2020, compared to the same month a year ago.

Casino historian David G. Schwartz told that a falloff in group conventions has taken a toll on the Las Vegas economy. This falloff especially hurts midweek room reservations, he said.

The decline is being felt on the Las Vegas Strip.

Beginning Oct. 19, Encore, a Wynn Resorts property on the Strip, began closing Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of low consumer demand. This includes the gaming and hotel areas.

The resort is only open from Thursdays at 2 pm until noon on Mondays. Encore will begin fully operating again when consumer demand increases.

Veteran industry expert Alan Feldman told the closure makes business sense. Encore and Wynn Las Vegas, both Wynn Resorts properties, are side-by-side on the Strip where the Desert Inn once stood.

“Their buildings are attached, and while they generally operate as separate entities, there is, in fact, much that can be done jointly,” Feldman said.

Other properties are making their hotel rooms available just on weekends. The LINQ and Planet Hollywood, both on the Strip, are accepting room reservations only from Thursdays through Sundays.

New Casino Strategies

As the hotel-casino industry in Las Vegas confronts the decline in tourism, some properties have adopted new business models to attract customers.

Circa Resort in downtown Las Vegas held a grand opening early Wednesday as an adult-only property.

The next day, the Cromwell reopened on the Strip as an adults-only resort. It had been closed since March when Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered casinos and most other businesses to shut down as COVID-19 cases spiked. The governor allowed casinos to reopen in early June. Some reopened more quickly than others.

Park MGM reopened in late September as the first smoke-free casino on the Strip. NoMad Las Vegas, a luxury hotel on Park MGM’s upper floors, also is smoke-free.