- Virgin Hotels Las Vegas has announced that they will delay their property opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Virgin Hotels Las Vegas had previously set an opening date of January 15, 2021 .
- The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas casino will be run by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment with Betfred USA operating the sportsbook.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many components of the world economy and none more so than the travel and hospitality industries. In particular, gaming destinations from Las Vegas to Macau have taken a hard hit. In Southern Nevada, a number of the major strip hotels have started to close their hotels during the week simply because the customer demand to justify doing otherwise just isn’t there.
That’s the environment facing the Nevada gaming industry which makes the just announced decision of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas to delay their planned January 15 opening a very prudent one. This is the third delay in opening for the property on the location of the former Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The original plan was to open in Fall 2020 but in September a new January 15, 2021 launch date was announced. Unfortunately, the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic has made that plan untenable. Nevada is facing record numbers of positive tests and hospitalizations and all across the US and the world the situation has deteriorated.
Richard “Boz” Bosworth, president and CEO of JC Hospitality, owner of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, provided the following comment in a statement announcing the delay in opening:
“Due to the continuously evolving COVID-19 situation not only in Nevada but nationwide, we have made the decision to delay the Jan. 15, 2021 opening of Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The construction for the project is on time and this decision was predicated on the current conditions in the market as it pertains to the pandemic. While the entire team at JC Hospitality is beyond excited to introduce the reimagined resort casino to locals and tourists alike, the safety and health of our guests, partners and team members continues to be our top priority. We encourage everyone to follow the guidelines put forth by public officials. At this time, an opening date has not been finalized, but an announcement is forthcoming.”
As Bosworth’s statement indicates, a revised opening date has not been finalized though at this point it appears prudent to wait until at least Spring 2021. The struggles of the Las Vegas gaming industry–particularly the megaresorts on The Strip–are a clear ‘cautionary tale’ that underscores the difficulty of balancing cost cutting measures with keeping the doors open. This is doubly challenging for a new property–there is a need to ‘make a splash’ with guests and the media but that is extremely difficult to do while keeping costs down in an uncertain market.
Another consideration is the difficulty in hosting live music events and nightclubs. As was the case with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino the plan is for live music and nightclubs to play a big part of the product mix at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. That has been made clear in upgrades and rebranding to the HRHs iconic venues Vinyl and The Joint. While this is a smart play in the longterm in the short term they represent additional cost centers that won’t be bringing in significant revenue in the current COVID-19 environment hallmarked by the need for ‘social distancing’.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas already has a number of buzzworthy elements working in its favor. The casino will be operated by Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment under the ‘Mohegan Sun’ name. This represents the first tribal presence in the Southern Nevada gaming industry. The sportsbook at the property will be operated by Betfred Sports–the US subsidiary of the well known UK based sportsbook. It’s been a big year for Betfred with the most recent accomplishment the release of a mobile betting app in Colorado. This will be Betfred’s first presence in Nevada and the addition of a new ‘out’ will be a welcome boost for the moribund Las Vegas sports betting ecosystem.