When Las Vegas Strip resorts are allowed to reopen following the COVID-19 closures, the initial MGM Resorts International properties to do so are expected to be the Bellagio and New York-New York, CEO Bill Hornbuckle said Thursday during a quarterly earnings call.
“We’re probably looking at two or three offerings initially,” Hornbuckle said. “We tend to lean into New York-New York because it’s one of our simpler places to run and we’re probably looking at Bellagio on the other end (of the Strip).”
Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday released a multiphased reopening plan for the state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but couldn’t offer a specific date for when casinos would be allowed to again do business.
The closures are to blame for a 29% decrease in revenue for MGM in the quarter ending March 31 with reported net revenues of $2.3 billion. For Strip properties, the company’s revenues dropped 21% during the quarter to about $1.1 billion when compared to the first quarter of 2019.
During a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox told President Donald Trump that he sees some Strip properties being open by Memorial Day in the last weekend of May, as long as certain health and safety benchmarks are met.
“We’ll go slow,” Hornbuckle said. “We’ll be responsive and responsible and look to the economics of some of it. We’re going to see how the market responds.”
Hornbuckle said casino floors throughout the resort corridor are being reconfigured with social distancing measures in mind. Resort operators on the Strip indicate other precautions include: frequently wiping down gaming machines, having sanitation stations, requiring employees to wear protective masks and taking the temperature of patrons before allowing them onto the property. A high temperature is one of the signs of the virus.
Hornbuckle also said MGM plans to release its own reopening safety plan — similar to what Las Vegas Sands and Wynn have put out — sometime in the next two weeks.
On the sports and entertainment side, Hornbuckle said it would be a “stretch” to think that T-Mobile Arena, partially owned by MGM, would be able to host a large event like a concert in 2020.
But he added that MGM has been in ongoing discussions with officials from the NBA and NHL about hosting televised-only events. There have been reports of the NBA finishing its season in Las Vegas.
“We can host some of that, and we are working diligently to do that,” Hornbuckle said.
MGM is also a corporate sponsor for Allegiant Stadium, which is expected to be finished this summer, and has extensive plans for Las Vegas Raiders pre- and post-game festivities around the $2 billion facility.
“As it relates to sports, long-term, Las Vegas will recover,” Hornbuckle said. “But we may see a few games this year without people. We were creating a large pregame tailgate environment outside Mandalay Bay and Luxor, which we have put on hold because it’s our general view that if we’re fortunate to see real fans, it won’t be 65,000.”