Las Vegas Ready for 2021 Rebound

Las Vegas gaming properties continued to suffer as the late-fall and winter surge in coronavirus infections kept customers away, but experts are just about ready to talk about the light at the end of its COVID-19 tunnel.

Despite overall gaming numbers being (predictably) down vs. 2019, month-over-month, Las Vegas is eagerly anticipating the effects of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Rough Numbers, but Brighter Days Ahead

The NGCB data showed a gaming revenue decrease of 32.5 percent among Las Vegas Strip casinos compared with November 2019.

The state’s overall gambling revenue was down 17.7 percent in November compared to the same month in 2019.

Year-over-year comparisons are obviously affected by the pandemic, but the October 2020 to November 2020 results were concerning.

In November, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), profits could not match numbers from the prior month, showing the stark reality of not yet having the vaccines rolled out.

“November was a disappointing month,” Brent Pirosch, a gaming analyst with CBRE, told Gaming Today. “Sequentially from October, volume on the Strip was down 12.4 percent while supply was basically flat (+0.3 percent).

“This was the first sequential volume decline since reopening this year. Not all too surprising given the surge in coronavirus cases towards the end of the year and the additional restrictions that followed, but a little heartbreaking nonetheless.”

Help on the Way

In December, with the good news from the scientists regarding vaccines came updated predictions for the city’s economic recovery.

The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance hosted a couple of experts in the field who see brighter days coming.

Chris Thornberg, a founding partner of the Los Angeles business Beacon Economics, said a key is vaccine success.

“I’m hearing that almost 60 million doses available here in the United States by January and by March and April that a phenomenal number of people will have this,” Thornberg said. “We don’t have to have herd immunity to have control over this thing. My guess is by the second quarter … a lot of this will be in the rearview mirror.”

UNLV economist Stephen Miller predicted a gradual improvement.

“We can now see the end in sight because of the vaccines,” Miller said. “If the distribution and inoculation are such that people take it at a high enough level, we could see the end of the pandemic by maybe the middle of 2021 and certainly by the end of 2021 if everything goes smoothly.”

Adjusting and Promoting

The Mirage is now saying its midweek closures of the entire property — yes, even the volcano — will last at least into February.

Because of the pandemic and state restrictions on the number of people allowed for “large gatherings,” the hotel, as of Monday, Jan. 4, is accepting reservations for only Thursdays through Sundays.

The closures will begin Monday at noon and run through Thursday at noon.

“While we do not currently expect the midweek closure to remain in effect past February, we will continue evaluating how long The Mirage’s midweek hotel closure will remain in effect,” according to a statement from Callie Driehorst, spokeswoman for Mirage parent MGM Resorts.

Another example of how the Strip properties are fighting the COVID-19 era, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas continue to operate as completely smoke- and vape-free destinations. (NoMad is a boutique hotel on the upper floors of the resort building.)

The resort, whose website boasts “The Strip’s first fully smoke-free casino resort,” has 2,993 rooms. Its restaurants include the popular Eataly.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.