MGM Resorts to Reopen Vegas Properties at 25% Capacity to Start

Bellagio in Las VegasMGM Resorts International are preparing to reopen once the COVID-19 shutdown is lifted, in what could possibly the next few weeks here, and they’ve got a game plan to start.

In the company’s first-quarter earnings call, acting CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the chain would only operate two of its 10 Strip properties initially, those properties being the Bellagio and New-York New-York, as they accommodate different traveler’s budget.

This week, Hornbuckle said that those two properties that will get to open up will operate only at 25 percent capacity at first. In an interview with the Today Show, Hornbuckle expressed his confidence in operating at capped capacity levels, alongside their newly developed health and safety measures that were also revealed this week, called the “Seven-Point Safety Plan”.

He said MGM Resorts is making a way toward setting up a “very, safe, controlled environment.” Further arguing that Vegas done safely in the short term is still “Vegas.”

That’s a good argument point, considering that things haven’t been normal since the whole pandemic started over two months ago. We’re all just figuring out how to adjust accordingly until we can get our footing back.

MGM’s Reopening Safety Plan

MGM’s new Seven-Point Safely Plan has thoughtfully outlined the various procedures and protocols the company will put into place upon reopening.

The seven points of safety include employee temperature screenings, employees to wear masks at all times on the property, requiring social distancing guidelines to be followed among staff and guests, hand washing and increased hand-sanitizing stations throughout high-traffic areas on the property, monitoring and optimizing the performance of HVAC systems on-site, specific incident response protocols, and digital innovations in providing contactless solutions for guests.

‘Three Buckets of Guests’ Coming to Las Vegas

In the same Today Show interview, Hornbuckle talked about the “three buckets of guests” that he envisions coming to Las Vegas once the city reopens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In that first bucket are guests who he believes will return straight out of the gate, irrespective of health concerns. This group is ready to get back to the Las Vegas they know, and are likely planning out their trip for when Strip casinos reopen in the coming weeks.

The second buckets of visitors are looking to be convinced that the city is safe enough before they come back, and this is what MGM hopes releasing their Seven-Point Safety Plan will accomplish for those with big safety concerns.

And then Hornbuckle says is the last bucket of people who will sit back and see how the initial reopening plays out before they make any moves to return to Las Vegas.

Confidence in Air Travel Likely to Boost Las Vegas Visitation

For the large percentage of Las Vegas visitors who need to travel via plane to make it into the entertainment destination, confidence in air travel will be essential and the first step in making sure that those specific types of visitors can return.

Unlike visitors from Southern California and the other surrounding states, where Vegas isn’t a hop skip jump away by vehicle, airlines will need to do their part in developing their own set of health and safety protocols to ease passengers’ concerns.

Frontier Airlines President and CEO, Barry Biffle, is doing just that. Biffle touched down into Las Vegas this Monday to meet with resort and travel partners to figure out the best way to collaborate in bringing much-needed visitation back to Vegas.

Biffle argued that if airlines can’t help passengers feel safe on their journey to Las Vegas, that they won’t make it onto the plane, let alone the city. To help give passengers confidence in air travel, the carrier announced their new safety protocols.

Their layered approach includes requiring flight staff and passengers to wear face coverings, using HEPA filtration systems, a “more room” seating option that will allow passengers to keep the middle seat of their row free, adding the future thermal testing of passengers and flight staff beginning June.

Other Casinos That Are Reopening Are Taking a Limited Capacity Approach, Too

The gaming industry is definitely taking note of how other casinos are handling the reopening their properties, and it looks like a limited-capacity reopening might be something of the norm as we see more and more casinos begin to open back up.

For example, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that the state’s three casinos will be able to reopen next Monday, May 17, at one-third of their capacity.

Casino executives in The Natural State believe that with the pent-up demand for people to return to casinos, they could see people lining outside of properties, waiting for their turn to get in on some play.

And today, some casinos in Oklahoma have even opened up. Of course, strict rules have come attached to the reopening. Those rules include limited capacity in the same fashion as Arkansas casinos, limited occupancy to one-third of normal standards.

Hours of operation have also been reduced from 24-hours a day to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to start. Guests are also required to wear a mask, with the Thunderbird casino in Norman providing complimentary masks to guests for the first week of reopening, and the thermal screening of guests upon entering the property.

Stay Tuned

We’re glad to see that casino operators are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that their properties are safe enough for guests to return to and enjoy amid the pandemic.

What do you think of MGM’s approach to cap their property capacity initially? And how long do you think reduced capacity will last on the Las Vegas Strip?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Weigh in on casinos reopening in the comments below, and as always, stay safe and healthy out there!