Two IAC Top Execs Added to MGM Board

MGM Resorts International LogoCasino giant MGM Resorts International named two top officers from the InterActiveCorp. (IAC) to its Board of Directors following the latter’s $1B investment in MGM.

In an August 20 release MGM Resorts said that IAC Chairman and Senior Executive Barry Miller and CEO JOey Levin have joined MGM’s board., which now consists of 14 members.

Said MGM Chairman of the Board of Directors Paul Salem:

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Barry and Joey to our board and to benefit from their collaboration as MGM Resorts continues developing innovative products and elevating our leadership in digital experience. IAC’s significant investment, expertise and support come at a pivotal time and will play a key role in MGM’s strategy to seize emerging opportunities and lead the industry with unparalleled in-person and digital experiences.”

Experienced Executives

Diller served as the Chairman and CEO of IAC from 1995-2010. He boasts of a vast experience across several senior executive positions at the likes of Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Prime Time Television. He is also the Chairman and CEO of Expedia, serves on the Board of The Coca-Cola Company, and is a member of The Business Council.

Meanwhile, Levin joined the IAC in 2003 and he previously served as director of numerous publicly traded consumer technology companies like The Action Network, Groupon, and LendingTree. Levin is also the Chairman of the Board at ANGI Homeservices and MatchGroup. He also sits on the board of Turo, a privately held peer-to-peer car-sharing service.

IAC Had Eyes on BetMGM

IAC bought a 12% stake of the Casino Operator worth $1B with its eyes on MGM’s online gambling app BetMGM. Diller had long wanted to join the online gambling industry and he felt that BetMGM has the “immense potential” to emerge as a top plyer in the billion-dollar online betting business despite its small contribution to the overall revenue figure of MGM.

MGM President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle recently told analysts that its sports betting and online gambling platform is projected to earn $130M this year which is a very negligible amount compared to MGM’s casino earnings of $6.5B for the year 2019.

But MGM has become the premier sports betting outfit since sports wagering was legalized in 2018 in the United States. BetMGM, which was established with the collaboration of GVC holdings, is expected to pick up with the influx of funds from IAC. With the coronavirus pandemic also forcing brick and mortar casinos to close or operate at limited capacity, the online gambling industry is expected to rise this year.

Fox Founder Barry Diller Invests $1B in MGM

MGM Resorts International Logo
MGM Resorts International got a huge boost after Fox Broadcasting founder Barry Diller invested $1B in the gaming giant.

Diller’s IAC/Interactive said on Monday that it had bought a 12% stake in the MGM Resorts International. In a letter to the shareholders, Diller wrote that the gambling operator’s online gaming business was initially what attracted him. Said Diller:

“We believe MGM presented a ‘once in a decade’ opportunity for IAC to own a meaningful piece of a preeminent brand in a large category with great potential to move online.”

Interest In Online Gaming Business

Diller added that he has followed the online gaming business for a while and his company has been looking for a venue to enter the $450B industry. MGM’s online gaming business comprises just a small portion of its revenue but in his letter, Diller said that it is poised to thrive and develop.

“MGM also is an aspirational brand, which could be delivered with daily accessibility and offer gaming consumers (including the 34 million M-life Rewards members) a wider range of services, both physical and digital, than any competitor.”

MGM Resorts and the U.K. based sports betting giant GVC Holdings partnered to form Roar Digital in 2018, with each company investing $100M. Their product is the BetMGM app which is currently live in seven states and is expected to be available to a total of 11 by the end of 2020.

Last July MGM and GVC put in an additional investment totalling $250M. BetMGM’s progress has lagged but it is expected to accelerate, especially with IAC coming up with a $1B investment in MGM.

MGM’s Shares Soar

Diller’s purchase comes at a time when when the gambling industry has been severely affected by the government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the people’s fears about mass gatherings.

MGM saw its entire U.S. fleet of two dozen resorts in six states close at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last March. All of its regional casinos have reopened except Empire City in New York while only The Mirage and Park MGM in Las Vegas are still closed.

MGM shares, which are traded in the New York Stock Exchange, closed up $2.62, 13.8% on volume or more than two-and-a-half times the daily average on the news of the deal. It retreated by $20 cents, 0.9 percent to end at $21.45 per share. Early trading saw the shares peak at $23.76 per share.

IAC Background

IAC acquired more than 59 million shares of MGM Resorts International over a nine-week period starting from the start of June 2020. The $1B purchase took some 34 stock transactions to be complete.

The 78-year old Diller founded Fox Broadcasting Co. and USA Broadcasting. He is currently ranked 168 in the Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $3B. Diller founded IAC in 1995 and is also the chairman of online travel titan Expedia, which acquired its holding company Liberty Expedia in 2019 for $2.6B.

IAC is a New York-based investment company with vast experience in media and online commerce. The portfolio of IAC includes Vimeo, Dotdash, and Care.com. It also owns a majority stake in ANGI Homeservices whose products include HomeAdvisor, Handy, and Angie’s List.

Bellagio Sportsbook Error Could Be Costliest in Las Vegas History

Bellagio SportsbookAs if the city of Las Vegas could afford another financial hit after its near three-month closure of casinos due to the COVID-19 outbreak, what happened at the Bellagio’s books last Sunday could possibly result in an almost quarter-million of winning wagers that were made by mistake.

This could be the biggest sportsbook loss on bets made after an event already started in Las Vegas history.

So what happened? According to an ESPN report, Sunday’s incorrect bets were able to be placed because of inaccurate start times were posted on a series of Korean and Chinese baseball games due to a manual entry error made by an employee.

Approximately 50 wagers were placed on self-service kiosks at the Bellagio between the hours of between 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m., when the games that those bets were placed on actually started at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m, which means bets were able to be placed while the games were still going on, giving bettors an advantage.

One of the highest paying bets was made on a $250, 10-leg parlay. The payout? Over $137,100.

Bookmakers Say It’s a Common Mistake in the Industry

While not on the same scale, several Las Vegas bookmakers say that the mistake of taking bets during a live game is common in the industry. Of course, they don’t recall a larger loss than this one.

Westgate sports book director John Murray explained that this error has probably happened to nearly every sportsbook since the beginning of time

These past-post errors are quite common in the world of sports betting because of human entry. It typically happens when an employee manually enters the wrong start times, or due to a typo.

Nevada Gaming Control Board is Looking into the Matter

Since the dispute of earnings made from the flub was over $500, the Nevada Gaming Control Board is reportedly investigating the matter.

It will be dependent on the Control Board whether or not to decide whether the earnings from the bets will be honored or not.

According to Robert Walker, USBookmaking director of sportsbook operations, he says that when the Gaming Control Board gets involved, it usually shows favor to the bettors than the books.

“We had (the GCB) come out several times,” Walker said. “We got ruled against most of the time.”

Stay Tuned

We’ll have to stay tuned to what the Control Board has to say on MGM Resort’s costly sportsbook error.

The mega casino operator says it has its sights set on becoming a developer, manager, and operator of major gaming, rather than being a capital-focused real estate business.

That means MGM Resorts International is focusing on sports and live entertainment, committing itself toward becoming a company that will utilize asset-light strategy.

Hopefully, this mistake doesn’t impede on the company’s future goals. Be sure to check back for more updates regarding Las Vegas and other sports betting news!

MGM Resorts Plan to Reopen Excalibur and Aria on the Strip Next

Aria Resort in Las VegasThe Las Vegas Strip has finally reopened after being shut down for over two months due to the coronavirus.

With the reopening came the strategic reopening planning by casino companies, such as MGM Resorts International. To start, they’ve opened up three of their 10 Strip properties: The Bellagio, MGM Grand, and New York-New York. It’s also opened up its MGM Signature hotel.

The company chose those two specific properties because it offers flexibility in different traveler’s budgets.

When Bellagio reopened its doors at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 4, crowds of visitors cheered as they made their way through the doors. They were also greeted by Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO of MGM Resorts, and other company executives who were anxiously awaiting the arrival of guests in the resort lobby.

The Bellagio Fountains also made their debut, after being shut off since March 17. It was one of the most exciting reopening scenes on the Las Vegas Strip, especially after COVID-19 turned it into something of a ghosttown for the first time in its history.

“It’s been amazing. I can remember the day this property opened … it felt the same (today),” Hornbuckle said.

The property originally opened back in 1998, so it’s incredible that the reopening feeling was on the same wavelength. While the excitement was similar, guests definitely walked into some key changes amid the property reopening during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those “new standards,” as Hornbuckle refers to them, include thermal checks at the property’s entrance, employees decked out in face masks, the casino floor rearranged for social distancing, social distancing signage, hand-santizing stations and more.

MGM Resorts was thrilled to welcome back its staff members and guests, despite the new restrictions. Hornbuckle said the reopening experience has been emotional for everyone and that the company went through a lot during the COVID-19 shut down, like the furloughing of almost 63,000 workers.

Now, the company has its sights set on the next phase of reopenings.

Excalibur and Aria to Open Next

According to a hotel spokesman, MGM Resorts is preparing to reopen Excalibur on June 11. It comes at a good timing, as the hotel will be celebrating its 30th year anniversary one week later on June 19.

The goal for MGM is to have the area of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue covered on the Strip with its reopened properties.

The company says it’ll take a breather after reopening Excalibur, then plan to reopen Aria in City Center in time for the 4th of July weekend.

Excalibur’s entertainment sector, including popular Vegas shows like Thunder From Down Under and Australian Bee Gees, plan to return July 1st with tickets now on sale for that date.

Excalibur and Aria will reopen under the same model as Bellagio and New York-New York: Reduced capacity, select dining and bar options, and under stringent safety protocols.

“But again, it’s one step at a time,” Hornbuckle explained. “We’re going to be patient; it is about doing this correctly and doing it safely first and foremost.”

Large Demand from Southern California Visitors

At Bellagio’s reopening on Thursday, the crowd was a mix of locals, drive-in and fly-in guests. This was a good sign, as Las Vegas is leveraging more tourists with cheaper airfare and reduced room rates.

According to Hornbuckle however, the resort is seeing its largest demand from Southern California visitors who are driving in.

The drive-in traffic is a promising pattern, as Southern California guests make up a lot of business on the Strip, and because it’s easiest for these types of residents to enter into Las Vegas versus others who have to fly in.

Hornbuckle explained that the pent-up demand for guests to get back into play has been high, and he estimates that the next few weekends of June will see a good amount of volume because of that fact.

But while initial demand has been good, Hornbuckle doesn’t expect things to go back to normal right away. In fact, he says the tourism industry in the city has “a long way to go,” especially with the dependence on outside factors like airline industry success and the confidence of the public to return.

New Mobile Check-In, New Norm

With many of MGM’s properties having upwards of 4,000 rooms, mobile check-in is the new tool that’s been introduced to help guests avoid more lines, making the check-in process more seamless while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Guests can use QR codes and their mobile devices to check into their hotel room, without ever having to check-in with a live agent.

Which Bars and Restaurants Reopened on June 4?

The reopening of its three casinos also meant the reopening of many big-name restaurants and bars for MGM Resorts.

At Bellagio, Prime Steakhouse from Jean George Vongerichten and Lago by Julian Serrano has reopened for dinner nightly. The popular Mayfair Supper Club also plans to open on Wednesdays through Sunday.

Noodles, Palio, Gelato, and Snacks have also reopened at Bellagio. For bar options, Petrossian Bar, Baccarat Bar & Lounge, and the pool bar are now available.

At MGM Grand, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Crush, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, and Avenue Café have reopened for dine-in service. Small restaurant options include Pieology and the walk-up Pool Café window.

For drink outlets, the Pool Bar, 32 Degrees, the Lobby Bar, the Casino Bar, and Starbucks are now open.

At the Signature at MGM Grand, Delights and Starbucks have reopened.

At New York-New York, Tom’s Urban, Gallagher’s Steakhouse, America, Chin Chin, Il Fornaio, NY Pizzeria, Nathan’s Famous, Haagen Dazs, and the food court all plan to reopen soon, with some dining options available now.

For beverage, Starbucks on the casino floor, Center Bar, NFL Bar, and the Pool Bar have reopened.

Stay Tuned

While coming to Vegas is a bet right now, as it always has been in other ways, resorts are doing their absolute due diligence to ensure guests are safe once they walk into their doors.

It’s comforting to know how hard they’ve been working to be able to provide fun and entertainment to Las Vegas visitors against, despite all of the concerns in the world right now.

Will you be returning to Las Vegas soon? Which one of MGM Resorts properties would you prefer to stay at?

Share with us below! Be sure to check back for more news regarding the exciting reopening of Las Vegas.

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!

MGM Resorts International Unveils Reopening Plan

MGM Grand in Las VegasIt won’t be too long until casinos, which have been closed nationwide for a little over two months, will begin opening up again. But with casino re-openings coming as the COVID-19 outbreak is still active and moving, it’s going to require things to look a lot different at the casinos for a while.

To prepare for reopening day amid the coronavirus pandemic, MGM Resorts International has recently released a report outlining their newly developed health and safety protocols the company plans to implement upon reopening their domestic properties.

MGM Resorts Acting CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle says the company developed the new plan by putting the health and safety at the center.

“Our ‘Seven-Point Safety Plan’ is the result of months of consultations with public health experts and outlines our comprehensive approach to welcoming guests back safely,” Hornbuckle said.

MGM Resorts’ Multi-Step Safety Plan

In MGM’s new report, it outlines their multi-step safety plan known as the “Seven-Point Safety Plan.” The plan was designed through the help of medical and scientific experts, one expert being Dr. Shannon Magari, ScD, MPH, MS at the helm.

The safety plan was created in a way to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, in a way that would protect both guests and employees alike. It was also developed in a way to rapidly respond to any potential new cases.

These particular safety procedures and protocols are two-fold. They work to satisfy the high-end customer service experience that MGM hotel guests have come to expect from the brand while being flexible and effective enough to adapt to the ever-changing climate of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan will be implemented throughout MGM’s properties nationwide, with slight variances based on local jurisdictions.

Here’s what the Seven-Point Safety Plan will entail:

  1. Screening, Temperature Checks, and Employee Training

All employees are to be screened and have their temperature checked before entering property grounds.

  1. Mandatory Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

All MGM Resorts employees will be provided with personal protective equipment specific to job roles and will be required to wear a mask at all times. While guests will not be required to wear masks to be on the casino floors, it will be strongly encouraged.

  1. Physical Distancing

MGM Resorts will require social distancing guidelines to be assumed between all staff and guests whenever possible. Foot markers and plexiglass barriers will be installed as a physical reminder for everyone.

  1. Hand Washing and Enhanced Sanitation

Increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and areas will be implemented, as well as hand washing and hand-sanitizing stations located in high-traffic areas on the properties.

  1. Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Controls and Air Quality

MGM Resorts will continue to monitor and optimize the performance of HVAC systems at all properties to reduce the risk of airborne virus transmission.

  1. Incident Response Protocols

In the event of a staff member or guest testing positive for COVID-19, properties are equipped with a set of incident protocols to handle the exposed areas and notify those who were in close contact with the individual of their diagnosis. Additional medical and security staff will also be available at each property.

  1. Digital Innovations

Contactless check-in digital innovations will become available, eliminating the need for guests to check in with staff for certain services, such as hotel check-in and dining. Contactless check-in can be done through the MGM Resorts app and dining choice can be made through digital menus.

Stay Tuned

It looks like Strip operators have been developing similar reopening safety protocols, like Venetian’s Clean Initiative, and they seem to be promising in welcoming staff and guests back to a safe environment.

What do you think of MGM’s reopening plan? Will you be visiting one of their properties once they reopen? Weigh in below!

MGM Resorts Proposes to Host Remaining NBA Season in Las Vegas Property

NBA LogoAlthough the NBA season is still currently suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league is looking into where they could potentially host the remaining games of the 2019-20 season if the suspension gets lifted soon.

Currently, the NBA is figuring out whether or not they can return to action sometime this summer. But, figuring that out comes with figuring out a prime location to host the games.

According to the New York Times, MGM Resorts in Las Vegas has reportedly offered itself as a host location to hold the remaining regular-season games.

The company believes their resort on the Las Vegas strip would serve as the ideal host for the league and its teams, setting them up in a quarantined portion of the Strip.

MGM Resorts has also reportedly sent proposals to other professional leagues outside of the NBA, including the WNBA, the NHL, and MLS, volunteering to the host site to hold their seasons as well.

Details of MGM’s Proposal

It appears as though MGM will have one “fully quarantined” campus in Las Vegas. This particular campus is where teams, players, and their coaches would stay and also be the same location where they would play their games.

Additionally, players’ family members, as well as NBA and broadcast media workers will also stay at the quarantined campus.

In the proposal, it was mentioned that the Mandalay Bay, which has 4,700 rooms and is connected to two other hotels: the Delano and the Four Seasons, has a large convention center that could build up to 24 courts.

In the past, the same convention center held games for the WNBA Las Vegas Aces. The way the courts would be designated would be five courts being used specifically for games, with the other 19 being used for game practices.

Should additional court space be needed, the proposal mentioned getting that additional space from the Thomas & Mack Center. The Thomas & Mack Center is an arena on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ campus, where the NBA holds its Summer League games.

No Details Given on Safety Protocols Just Yet

While MGM Resorts bid outlined the specific space they would use to host the league’s games, and that adequate, quarantined space is available, no details were provided on the specific health and safety protocol they would implement.

Although no details were given on that front, the company said those precautionary measures would be “extensive.”

According to the New York Times, any individual entering the designated campus would need to agree to the protocols they devise up, and that those same individuals will have to agree to remain at the resorts for the whole trip.

NBA Offers Guidelines on Ticket Refunds and Credits

The suspension of the NBA meant the suspension of games that fans had previously purchased tickets to.

On Monday, sources advised that the NBA began giving fans guidelines on what they could do with their purchased tickets. Those guidelines include policies on ticket refunds and credit backs.

However, the league hasn’t started canceling future games, as plans about what the league will do for the remainder of the season are still being finalized.

It’s important to note that while fans will start getting updated on ticket policies soon, that doesn’t mean the cancellation of games is guaranteed. What ticket holders should expect is that any future games will likely be fan-less.

Fans are being encouraged to continue monitoring the NBA ticket policy for important updates until a final determination is made regarding the remainder of the season.

Fan-less Sports Seems Like the Solution to Sports Returning Right Now

With basically the entire sports world being shut down by the coronavirus pandemic, it makes the most sense that the only way for sports to return right now is by being a fan-less event.

While that takes away a lot of the excitement, not to mention motivation for the players, it’s a seemingly winning solution to getting sports back to the global table.

It also seems to be the safest solution in a world that’s being heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Stay Tuned

What do you think about Las Vegas being a potential host location for the remainder of the NBA season? Do you think sports being held as fan-less events will change the way games are played? And do you think the NBA will even be able to return this Summer?

We’d love for you to weigh-in with your thoughts below!

MGM’s Bellagio and New-York New-York Properties Likely to Reopen First

New-York New-York CasinoWe’re now in May, which means it’s likely it won’t be too much longer that Las Vegas Strip casinos stay closed.

The statewide shutdown of casinos happened the second week of March and was originally only expected to stay in effect until the end of the month. But, the shutdown got extended to April 30, and now Nevada is under a phased reopening plan.

It’s been a necessary extension, with how fluid the coronavirus pandemic has been, and with the growth of cases in Nevada. However, government officials believe the state reached its peak around April 24.

With casinos preparing to reopen by implementing coronavirus safety protocols, MGM Resort executives are in talks over which of their properties they’ll likely reopen first.

In Thursday’s first-quarter earnings call, Acting MGM Resorts International CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, provided a glimpse into what visitors can expect from the chain, saying that New York-New York and Bellagio will most likely to be the first of the company’s Nevada properties to reopen when the time comes.

MGM Resorts has 13 outlets in Southern Nevada, to be exact, including City Center’s Aria and Vdara, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Delano, MGM Grand, The Signature at MGM Grand, The Mirage, Park MGM, and 42.5% ownership of T-Mobile Arena.

MGM Releasing Reopening Strategy Within the Coming Weeks

According to Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts will be unveiling its reopening strategy in the coming weeks.

First reopening priority for the company? Ensuring that each of their unique properties is putting health and safety at the forefront of the operations. Hornbuckle says that the key to economic recovery will lie in their ability to build consumer confidence.

The company has been working with public health officials and experts in the epidemiology and biosafety fields to develop a set of safety protocols that will help provide the safest possible environment for staff members and guests.

Reopening measures will include social distancing, providing adequate personal protective equipment to staff, stringent sanitation of public areas and high-contact items, crowd management, and more.

MGM’s Will Move at a ‘Slow, Responsive, and Responsive’ Rate in Reopening

MGM will first reopen two or three properties first, namely Bellagio and New York-New York, to target different traveler’s budget.

The Bellagio is a luxury mid-Strip resort geared toward visitors who are looking for a more high-end experience of the Strip, as the property includes high-end shops, the famous Bellagio fountains, a conservatory and museum.

The New York-New York is a midprice hotel on the south end of the Strip that’s located close to T-Mobile Arena and Park MGM and includes a roller coaster, Irish pub, and arcade on property.

Hornbuckle says that after they reopen the first couple of properties, they’re going at a slow, responsive and responsible pace when it comes to opening the rest of their properties.

Of course, it will be dependent on how the Las Vegas Strip will fare in general with the reopening of casinos amid the pandemic that’s still currently going on.

MGM also advised that they would not be opening all of their restaurants at the hotels just yet and that they’ll be provided the options of takeout food and beverage.

What About Concerts, Sports Events, and Other Big Shows?

With the uncertainty of Las Vegas will fare once it reopens for business, it’s no surprise that Hornbuckle believes these types of events will be off the radar for the foreseeable future.

“I think the idea that we’re going to get 15,000 people in T-Mobile (Arena) for a concert anytime this year is probably a stretch,” Hornbuckle said.

Hornbuckle says MGM will likely start with smaller, more intimate performances when it comes time to reopening those specific entertainment outlets.

 

MGM Resorts Confirms Nearly 63,000 Employees Furloughed in First Quarter Report

MGM Grand CasinoMGM Resorts International reported its first quarter earnings for 2020 after the stock market closed today, April 30. Despite raking in literally billions of dollars from slots and table games in the first two months of the year, closing casinos in March lead to net losses for shareholders.

Bill Hornbuckle, the Acting CEO and President of MGM Resorts, kicked off the earnings call by explaining how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its properties around the world. In the wake of the global outbreak, MGM regretfully furloughed nearly 63,000 employees and suspended casino operations. However, the company and its partners have collectively raised $12.8 million to support employees in need and their immediate families. Furthermore, they’ve donated over $1 million in food and products to families in the United States affected by the pandemic.

MGM’s Revenues Decline Despite Raking it in From Slots

Understandably, the temporary closures resulted in a substantial decrease in income for the company. MGM reported consolidated net revenues of $2.3 billion, a 29% decline compared to the same quarter last year. MGM China reported a 63% decrease in net revenues. Consolidated operating income totaled $1.3 billion. The sale of Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand Las Vegas resulted in a $1.5 billion gain for the company this quarter.

Compared to the same period in 2019, MGM saw a 16% increase in casino revenues from their Las Vegas Strip resorts in the first two months of this year. However, the closures in March led to a 12% decrease for the first quarter overall. MGM’s properties on The Strip ultimately netted $1.1 billion in casino revenues through March 31, 2020. The total handle for slots alone was $2,457,000,000! Considering MGM’s hold of the total wagered on slots was 9.4%, it’s no wonder they can afford to keep building casinos.

MGM Uncertain on Timeline for Reopening US Casinos

In the United States alone, MGM Resorts owns properties in Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. Accordingly, the company depends on the Governor of each state to provide guidance on how social distancing guidelines will impact its business operations in each state. Hornbuckle offered the following statement on MGM reopening its domestic casinos:

“It is still premature to predict the opening dates of our domestic properties. In the meantime, we are collaborating with public health officials, experts in epidemiology and biosafety, and both state and federal government to come up with a set of protocols that will help deliver a safe, secure environment for our employees and guests.”

MGM expects its “dry markets” (properties frequented by state residents) like Mississippi to rebound before its premiere “fly-in” destinations (cities like Las Vegas, NV, that attract domestic and international tourists).

MGM Is Looking Forward to Expanding Abroad

Despite the economic downturn, MGM Resorts was able to raise $750,000,000 in capital by issuing corporate bonds. Championing its strong liquidity, Bill Hornbuckle reassured investors the company’s long-term plans are still in motion. The supplemental report from the earnings call emphasized MGM’s focus on establishing a larger presence in sports betting and on-line gaming. Internationally, the company plans to grow its business in Macau and develop a new integrated resort in Japan.

It’s too soon to tell when MGM’s revenue will return to “normal” levels. However, casinos in Macau are open for business again and customer bookings for next year haven’t taken a hit. Clearly their clientele is just as ready for casinos to reopen as the company is.

Former Nevada Gov. Sandoval Leaves Executive Position at MGM

Brian Sandoval at PodiumFormer Nevada Governor, Brian Sandoval, who served as Nevada’s 29th governor from 2011-2019 and was succeeded by current Governor Sisolak, has announced that he will be leaving his executive position at MGM Resorts to pursue a position at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).

Sandoval joined MGM in January 2019 and served as the company’s President of Global Gaming Development. He has applied to become president of UNR, according to Wednesday’s press release.

Acting CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle expressed his gratitude for Sandoval’s accomplishments and visible commitment during his time at MGM:

“We are grateful to Governor Sandoval for all that he has accomplished in his time at MGM Resorts. He helped to advance our efforts in Japan, in jurisdictions where we were seeking expanded access, and areas where we pursued sports betting opportunities.”

Sandoval returned the gratitude to MGM Resorts, saying that he was “grateful for the opportunity and privilege to have worked at MGM” and that after having accomplished his goals for the prestigious company, he would be focusing his energy and efforts into hopefully becoming UNR’s next president.

In his closing statement, he wished everyone “good health and safety during these challenging times.”

How MGM is Doing During the COVID-19 Crisis

Currently, all of MGM’s U.S. properties are closed, as well as every other casino in the country during the coronavirus closures.

The group has been experiencing “substantial losses” amid the coronavirus, with their market shares dropping and suffering from high group cancelations.

In the company’s casino and hotel update, they expressed the negative impact the pandemic has had on their operations, stating that the company had major operating losses in March and that they don’t “expect to see a material improvement until more is known regarding the duration and severity of the pandemic, including when the company’s properties can re-open to the public.”

Macau Properties are Open, but Visitation is at Low Levels

When COVID-19 first broke out in China, MGM’s Macau properties, along with the over 40 other Macau casinos, were forced to shut their doors for over two weeks to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Since then, Macau has reopened its casinos, but it hasn’t met that business has returned to normal.

MGM advised in a statement that the company’s Macau properties are another problem in and of itself, with visitation remaining at low levels, not to mention the travel constraints that continue to impact the gaming and tourism market as a whole.

MGM Looks to Cut Expenses During this Time

Not surprisingly, MGM has outlined its plans to cut operating costs to mitigate the losses they’ve incurred due to the global pandemic.

They’ve estimated that 60-70% of their domestic operating expenses are variable and that they would look to cut those variable expenses first. This includes hiring freezes, furloughs, and reduction of staff.

They also stated that they would freeze a minimum of 33% of their domestic capital spending projects this year.

Excluding its MGM China and MGM Growth Properties, MGM had approximately $3.9 billion in operating cash and cash investment balances as of March 26.

The company believes that with its “strong liquidity position, valuable unencumbered assets and aggressive cost reduction initiatives will enable it to fund its current obligations for the foreseeable future.”