Jim Allen, the chairman of Hard Rock International, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, told reporters on Wednesday that he believes it will be a while until casinos in the US operate at pre-COVID-19 levels.
That’s a hefty statement, considering the impact the coronavirus pandemic has made on the casino economy thus far, and it’s been less than a few months since the outbreak came onto the scene in the states.
According to Allen, he believes some regional casinos will be able to bounce back faster once the country opens casinos back up, but the tourism industry altogether will likely suffer for an extended period of time.
Allen says it will be a “real challenge” to ramp business back up, especially in the United States. His company is planning on losing a year of normal business until “business as usual” can return in the casino world.
Examining the Reopening Levels at Hard Rock’s China Property
If Hard Rock International’s reopening levels at their Asia property are any indication of what business might look like back in the states, the outlook is pretty grim.
Hard Rock’s hotel in Shenzen, a city right outside of Hong Kong, has been reopened for close to a month and its operating level is only at 12 percent capacity.
China was the first country to enact a total closure of casinos back in February, which lasted for 15 days. This was during the time that the virus was contained in China and they were dealing with proactive measures to slow the spread of it. Their casinos have since reopened.
Florida Properties Offer Most Hopeful Outlook
Allen says the company’s most profitable properties are its six casinos in Florida. Allen calls these properties “regional business,” explaining that casinos that will be able to attract visitors through car travel versus travel by plane have a better shot of rebounding quicker.
While it’s exciting to see people flocking to be back on Florida beaches, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recent reopening of them, Allen believes the crowd is due more to the get-out-of-the-house push, and not indicative of the boom his casinos will see in the state.
However, Allen believes that casinos will take the proper precautions and necessary steps to ensure guests feel safe when they are able to visit again.
Allen advised that Hard Rock’s Florida properties were doing a lot more than social distancing during its final days of operation before the nationwide shutdown of casinos.
They had one slot machine on and four off at one time, and only three players at gaming tables.
Casinos Are Developing Safety Measures for Opening Back Up
In order for casinos to maintain a sense of normalcy when things open back up, in terms of guest volume, casino operators will need to ramp up safety measures to make guests feel as safe as possible.
Casino executives in Las Vegas are already outlining their new coronavirus safety measures, including Wynn Resorts.
Wynn says they plan on using thermal screening on guests to track internal body temperature, having dealers wear masks, and putting a seat of distance in between gaming table and slot players.
A year seems like a long time for things to return to normal, but right now all we know is this “new normal” that’s come along with the pandemic.
We’re curious: Do you agree with the Hard Rock CEO’s estimate that it will take a year for casinos to operate at full capacity again?
We’d love to know your insight. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!