ard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen said Tuesday that demand for Las Vegas casinos “will come back” in the long term.
In an interview with Fox Business, Allen said Las Vegas is “kind of in a unique category right now.” “We certainly believe long-term that market will come back as … people feel more comfortable with traveling,” he added. “Certainly if we look at regional gaming markets, actually they’re performing very well so it’s really based upon geographic area at this particular point in the gaming industry.”
The CEO of Seminole Gaming said that business in Florida in both July and August was “extremely strong” and that “our business in Ohio is OK.” He added that in other markets, such as Atlantic City, business is “slowly coming back.” He attributed part of that comeback to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announcing that indoor dining will resume at a limited capacity as of Friday.
Allen acknowledged that currently, business in Las Vegas mid-week is “still very soft” and that weekends are “starting to ramp up” and are moving in “a positive direction.” Nevada gaming revenue has decreased by 26.2% in July 2020 compared to July 2019, according to data released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. “We certainly think, and frankly we purchased our rights back about two, three months ago, right in the middle of the pandemic because we are a believer in the Las Vegas market on a long-term basis,” Allen said.
HRI Chairman believes “that the business model of the casino floor in Las Vegas is going to change and, frankly, everywhere in the country.” “We as human beings like to interact with other human beings so, therefore, I think people going out looking for entertainment will always be part of a business model,” Allen explained.
“There’s no doubt that what has occurred in the regional markets, where by state law many facilities are operating with 50% capacity but frankly doing the same or in some cases more revenue on an individual per unit basis,” he continued. He added that “as far as the overall aspect of entertainment, live music, shows, sporting events, I do believe that once we see some type of cure or vaccine for the pandemic that people will slowly graduate back into wanting to come out.”
Allen acknowledged that meeting for conferences and conventions, however, is “a different answer.” “Candidly we saw Vegas a few years back when President Obama said that it wasn’t a good thing to be having meetings in groups, specifically in business markets and actually named Las Vegas, it took a few years for that business to come back, but it did come back,” Allen explained. “I think now that frankly, we’re obviously doing interviews like this through Skype and Webex, roadshows financially are now being done online, I definitely think that business model is changing and to have two, three, 400,000 square feet of meeting space, that may be something that needs to be revisited in the future.”