News and Commentary

Las Vegas Strip Goes Dark As MGM, Wynn Shutter Casinos Until May
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 14: An exterior view shows MGM Grand & Hotel & Casino as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Several employees at MGM Resorts International hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. MGM Resorts International employees who can will start working from home next week. MGM has closed all nightclubs, dayclubs, buffets, spas, gyms and salons at its properties in Las Vegas and on Monday, it will close 150 food and beverage outlets and furloughs and layoffs will begin. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Several casino management companies are closing properties along “The Strip” in Las Vegas, Nevada, over concerns hotels, banquets, auditoriums, and gaming floors could play host to the spread of coronavirus.

MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts both said Sunday that they would close their casinos until, at least, the end of April, amid coronavirus concerns. Wynn, which operates both the Wynn and Encore resorts, told reporters that the pair of five-star properties will cease operations at midnight Tuesday.

MGM, which owns the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Luxor, Excalibur, and New York New York casino resorts, the Park MGM, the Bellagio, and two of the casinos in on the Strip’s “City Center,” Aria and Vdara, will end operations Tuesday morning.

Both companies say they will not take any reservations before May 1st. Possible visitors should know that that date is fluid and that MGM and Wynn casinos could remain closed longer.

“It is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said in a statement released on Sunday. “We will plan to reopen our resorts as soon as it (is) safe to do so and we will continue to support our employees, guests, and communities in every way that we can during this period of closure.”

MGM employees will retain their benefits through July 30th, even if they are furloughed or, worse, let go. They will also be paid for at least two weeks. Employees, however, “should expect to continue working until further notice,” according to a letter that went out to MGM casino workers. “We deeply regret the strain it will cause families and our community partners, and we will do all we can to mitigate it. When we do (reopen), we will be ready to welcome the world back to our properties.”

MGM’s move, though, comes as no surprise. Over the weekend, two employees, who worked at two separate properties, tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wynn’s CEO told media that the decision was made after viewing declining booking and travel rates.

“Based on what we’re seeing, our business volumes are going to be basically empty over the next few weeks,” Wynn CEO Matt Maddox said in a video message shared with employees Sunday. “Our hotel occupancy will be in the low teens – and that, to me, is not our concern. What our concern is that we all get through this together.”

Wynn employees will continue to be paid for full time work even if the casinos shutter for more than two weeks.

“What we’re going to do through these challenging times is make sure that all of our full-time employees – whether you’re in a closed outlet or you’re working here – will be getting their pay,” Maddox said. “We don’t know where this is going to end, but we do know that it will.”

Not all casinos will cease operations– Station Casinos, which operates several casinos in downtown Las Vegas and just outside the city limits — is making alterations to its policies and procedures, adding more custodial and kitchen staff and limiting gaming hours. Caesers Entertainment, which operates the other large-scale casinos on the Las Vegas strip, announced last week that their buffets and clubs would close, and that their shows would go on hiatus until further notice.

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