Once the Las Vegas Strip is cleared to reopen, MGM Resorts International will open two or three of its casinos, including the flagship Bellagio, as part of a gradual relaunch, acting Chief Executive Bill Hornbuckle told Wall Street analysts.
MGM Resorts, the biggest operator on the Strip with about a dozen properties, will have the Bellagio to compete with other high-end properties reopening at the same time, Mr. Hornbuckle said, and the New York-New York casino could be chosen as a lower-priced offering. Casinos will open with safety measures including social distancing, which the company will lay out in a plan to be released in two weeks, he said.
“Consumer confidence is key to economic recovery, and thoughtful reopening strategies are vital to building public trust,” Mr. Hornbuckle said in a conference call Thursday discussing quarterly results.
He also said the company has been eyeballing space between Mandalay Bay and Luxor for tailgating gatherings prior to Las Vegas Raiders’ games at Allegiant Stadium, using the West Hacienda Avenue overpass of Interstate 15 as the company’s pedestrian gateway to the stadium — if and when National Football League games are played before live audiences in 2020.
Hornbuckle said he has confidence in that group business, including conventions, will come back eventually, but it will take longer than the Southern California drive market’s return. “We do believe, because drive-in traffic particularly spikes in the summer that regionally we’ll see a substantial amount of drive-in, there’s obviously pent-up demand,” he said.
Chief Financial Officer Corey Sanders said about half of the conventions and trade shows on MGM’s books for 2020 canceled, but half of those have already rebooked for later dates. “We have more rooms on the books now for 2021 than we did for 2019 at the same time in 2018,” Sanders told investors.