Sands Resists Coronavirus Closure Trend, Keeps Palazzo, Venetian Open

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) isn’t following some rivals in closing integrated resorts on the Las Vegas Strip because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, vowing to keep the Palazzo and Venetian open while not laying off workers.

LVS isn’t bowing to the coronavirus and will keep the Palazzo and Venetian open with no layoffs. (Image: CNBC)

News that the two of Sin City’s glitziest venues will remain open comes amid a slew of temporary gaming property closures across the country stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. From the Strip to New England to the Midwest to California, commercial and tribal operators announced over the weekend they’d either voluntarily close casinos or do so to comply with state government orders barring large gatherings.

Our team members are our most valuable asset and we have every intention of getting through this challenging situation together,” said Sands spokesman Ron Reese in a statement reprinted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The company’s decision to keep the Palazzo and Venetian open bucks a trend that emerged in recent days, one that brought temporary closures announcements from rivals MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts.

Effective Tuesday, MGM is temporarily suspending business at Strip venues including the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, New York-New York, Excalibur, and Park MGM until further notice. Wynn said its eponymous integrated resort, Encore and Encore Boston Harbor, will be closed for two weeks.

No LVS Layoffs

LVS also noted that it’s not laying off workers at this time, and Reese told the Review-Journal the operator will work with staffers whose children are being affected by school closures. On Sunday, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV) said schools across the Silver State will be shuttered until April 6, a proclamation pertaining to all charter, private, and public schools.

Like LVS, Wynn is also avoiding layoffs – two bright spots at a time when Southern Nevada’s gaming economy is being sapped by the coronavirus. Between scrapped business meetings and conventions, sporting events and seasons being suspended and postponed, and travel restrictions limiting the flow of international visitors, occupancy rates on the Strip are dwindling.

For example, Wynn CEO Matt Maddox recently said that the operator is expecting “basically empty” business volumes over the next few weeks.

Further dealing a blow to the local economy are headcount reductions being planned by MGM and Caesars Entertainment – two of the largest operators on the Strip. Caesars, which isn’t temporarily closing Las Vegas properties, hasn’t publicly announced layoffs. But some staffers confirmed to local media that their employment status has been altered.

Hits Keep Coming

News of temporary closures in Las Vegas comes just weeks after Macau lifted a 15-day ban on gaming operations. The Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR), where LVS owns five integrated resorts, still isn’t close to returning to business as usual. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) there is expected to slide again this month after an almost 88 percent plunge in February.

MGM and Wynn each operate two venues on the peninsula. In Nevada, Sisolak said the choice to remain open or to temporarily suspend operations lies with operators. But there are new guidelines that must be followed, including fewer gamblers at tables and more vigilant cleaning of slot areas.

One thing is clear: travelers willing to visit Las Vegas over the coming weeks can get some good deals on hotel rooms. For example, Expedia shows rooms at the Venetian starting at $125 a night in early April, while Aria has accommodations as low as $75 over the same period.

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