Protests Could Lower Odds Of Vegas Reopening

Protests Could Lower Odds Of Vegas Reopening

Las Vegas, hit hard by the coronavirus due to its heavy entertainment-fueled economy, was planning a comeback — but that may be derailed due to the civil unrest going on over the past week, CNBC reports.

The city, known for its hotels and casinos, was planning its reopening “Welcome Back” campaign, complete with famous hotels such as Harrah’s, Caesars Palace and The Flamingo making their re-entrances to the world.

But civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has uprooted those plans, as one instance of conflict sprung up right on the Strip, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

In Reno, the National Guard was called to respond to riots amid a declaration of a citywide emergency by the mayor.

Missouri has had similar issues, where casinos like Eldorado Resorts have seen reopenings upended due to protests turned violent.

Las Vegas gleans around half of its visitation from outside tourists, and tourism was largely shelved during the pandemic. Analysts have predicted that the city will likely not return to its pre-pandemic economy in the near future.

“Sustained protests certainly don’t help bring back a wider audience of leisure and group customers,” said Barry Jonas, a gaming analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. “But we don’t see those segments returning in full force anytime soon anyway, given [the] coronavirus.”

Jonas said that for the time being, he expects the revenue from casinos to come from more risk-averse customers who are willing to drive to the city.

David Katz, a gaming analyst at Jefferies, said the combination of the pandemic and civil unrest had been “tragic” for businesses that thrive on walk-in traffic, including casinos. He added that it would remain to be seen if the demonstrations would lead to more coronavirus cases that could further disrupt reopenings.

The sentiments aren’t unique to Vegas, as all over the country, retailers look toward rehabilitation after a weekend of violence and protests.