- With the Las Vegas gaming and tourism economies still in the doldrums a number of major properties remain closed.
- At least ten large gaming properties are still closed with no reopening plans.
- Many of these properties may never reopen–at least under their current ownership and in their current form.
The recent announcement that all US properties owned by MGM Resorts will reopen by the end of the month is welcome news. Unfortunately, it more clearly reflects the priorities of their ownership and not any strong improvement in the Las Vegas gaming and tourism market. Virtually all tourism metrics remain at alarmingly low levels relative to a year ago. Many industry observers don’t see a significant turnaround until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.
Casinos are operating in a struggling market with excess capacity. That’s why some properties such as The LINQ are only accepting hotel guests on weekends. It’s a difficult dynamic to navigate–properties need to be open and have sufficient amenities to attract guests but not *too* many. At the very least, properties want to have their gaming floors available but unless they also have places to eat and drink their customers will soon leave for a property with more amenities.
Here’s the current status of the ten largest properties that remain closed as of September 19, 2020:
All four properties are owned by Red Rock Resorts/Station Casinos and all are closed indefinitely. The Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station are in an area that was once considered ‘up and coming’ but over the past decade the majority of the growth in the Las Vegas Valley has been elsewhere. These two properties may never reopen. They could be sold or even imploded to make room for another project. The problem, however, is that there are much better places in town to build so the underlying real estate probably doesn’t have the value to justify the demolition efforts.
The Palms will likely be sold though there’s nothing in the works at this point. It was in the midst of remodeling when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Nevada’s gaming industry and right off of I-15 not far from the new Allegiant Stadium it has a decent location. It’s not really a good fit in the Stations’ portfolio of locals oriented properties though The Palms has always tried to work ‘both sides of the street’ going after tourists while pitching locals with high slot paybacks.
The Fiesta Henderson’s future might be the most cloudy of all. In theory, Henderson is a desirable area but in actuality the Fiesta Henderson is closer to Boulder Highway–another overbuilt area in the current market environment–than it is to Henderson proper. Stations already has several properties in the area including Green Valley Ranch and Sunset Station.
MAIN STREET STATION
These three Boyd Gaming properties are also closed indefinitely. The Eldorado Casino on historic Water Street in Henderson will probably reopen at some point though it might be awhile. Ditto the downtown Main Street Station which could get a boost from the opening of the forthcoming Circa Resort & Casino set for later this year. Eastside Cannery is on the overcrowded Boulder Strip not far from Sam’s Town and Boulder Station. Hard to see Boyd rushing to reopen that property given the current market climate.
RIO LAS VEGAS
These properties are owned and/or operated by Caesars Entertainment and their future has been clouded even more by the recent merger with Eldorado Resorts. Assuming that Caesars isn’t planning to reopen The Cromwell and Planet Hollywood at some point they’re prime candidates to be sold. Both have been remodeled in the past decade and are in prime center strip locations. The future of the Rio is much more in doubt. The once revolutionary resort is getting a bit dated. It has a good location not far from the aforementioned Palms but would likely need some serious renovation to bring it into the 21st Century. My hunch is that it’ll reopen at some point but a sale or even demolition is not out of the question.
Making the future of the Rio all the more confusing–Caesars doesn’t technically own the property. It was sold to New York based real estate developer Eric Birnbaum in late 2019 with Caesars to continue managing the property for at least two years paying $45 million annually in rent. Keep in mind that deal was brokered before the Eldorado merger and there’s no telling what they have in mind for the Rio. At one point, there was talk that it would be demolished to build a baseball stadium to court a Major League team though that came and went.