Las Vegas casinos are among the largest in the world and require thousand of staff to ensure smooth running. Tourism in Nevada is massively down on previous years thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The casino industry is struggling and Vegas casinos leaders have asked the government to help stimulate recovery.
Vegas casinos and others around the U.S. bolted their doors shut in March. The government tried stemming the spread of COVID-19 by closing non-essential businesses, including all Vegas casinos. The closures affected 1.8 million employees and huge numbers losing their jobs. Three months Vegas casinos remained shut and the industry still hasn’t fully recovered.
Several states lost vast sums of money from casino revenue during the COVID-19 lockdown. Detroit lost $600,000 in tax revenue every day its casinos remained shut during the closures. Maryland soaked up $209 million in lost revenue while Pennsylvania now figuring out how to make up a $323 million shortfall.
MGM Resorts International runs 13 luxury Vegas casinos. It burned through $14.4 million daily as a result of the enforced closures.
Vegas Casinos Re-Opening But Need Help
American Gaming Association (AMA) President Bill Miller gave a speech at the G2E 2020 conference. It highlighted some of the issues Vegas casinos face.
“Gaming has never experienced a disruption live COVID-19. Over the two weeks in March, every casino in America was closed by government-mandated shutdowns, impacting each of the 1.8 million jobs we support.”
“Gaming workers, their families, and the small businesses that depend on us have all been hit hard. And our states and communities are feeling it, too. In addition to COVID’s impact on businesses, jobs, and the well-being of our families, friends, and colleagues, state budgets have been decimated by the pandemic.”
Ninety-percent of U.S. casinos have now re-opened but with strict guidelines in place. Social distance measures are extremely strict, resulting in reduced capacity and turning off gaming machines.
Jim Ziereis is the Vice President of Sales for Caesars Entertainment’s four New Jersey casinos. He spoke at a Stockton University webinar last week, which is unrelated to asking the government for help.
“Keep an eye out when you walk around the casino floor. Just about every other slot machine is turned off. There are fewer seats at the gaming tables. That contributes to lower revenue. As we move forward, more and more people are being furloughed or laid off. It will be very hard to sustain that high rate of visitation.”
What Help Do The Casinos Want and Need?
The U.S. commercial casino industry generated $43.6 billion in revenue in 2019. It is a massive business and it raises millions of dollars in taxes. Reducing tax liability is one way Vegas casinos can keep more staff on their books because employees are a huge ongoing cost.
AMA wants tax breaks and relief for Vegas casinos as they struggle to adapt to fewer customers. It also requests liability protection so businesses following government guidelines cannot be sued by customers who contract the virus.
The news of asking the government for help comes after three Vegas casinos announced significant job cuts.
MGM Resorts International runs the MGM Grand, Park MGM, and Tropicana in Las Vegas. Some 1,172 employees are losing their income in the coming weeks. Around 1,100 Tropicana employees are now without jobs. Approximately 180 MGM employees are facing layoffs.
Documents sent to the Nevada employment office reveal the reasons for the job cuts.
“Significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future. We could not have anticipated when our operators would be allowed to reopen and how restrictive the new operating conditions would be, and the negative impact this would have on business volumes.”
Tourists not visiting Las Vegas is understandable but it’s not helping the casinos at all. The visitor count topped 1,704,300 in September 2020, 51% lower than the 3,475,900 in 2019.
The figures for the year to date read just as miserably. Some 14,412,500 people visited Las Vegas in the year to September. This is 54.8% lower than 2019 when 31,880,200 tourists visited Sin City.