A study from Fitch Ratings has shed light on the difficult path that lies ahead for many of the United States’ top land-based casinos.
After initially closing during a near twelve-week lockdown from March, Las Vegas’ bricks-and-mortar casinos are slowly starting to re-open their doors. Any companies hoping for a quick revival of their fortunes are set to be disappointed, though. The study forecasts that it could take several years for casinos and resorts to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
The Very Long Road to Recovery
According to a Fitch Ratings investigation, Las Vegas casinos are looking at a downturn of up to sixty percent over the year. This is predicted to be followed by smaller recessions of 50% and 20% over 2021 and 2022. If the Fitch Ratings report is to be taken seriously, brick-and-mortar casinos across the Las Vegas Strip may have to wait until 2023 before they see recovery.
While the astronomical losses might be a cause for concern, the lack of activity is not thought to be overly damaging to the industry as a whole. It is believed that US casinos currently have around $24 billion in cash and other assets which would cover them until the end of 2022 when slow growth figures are to be expected.
New Jersey Begins Rebuilding
Over in Atlantic City, an equally gloomy forecast has been predicted. However, that has not stopped the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa from reopening its primary poker room. Having closed at the beginning of March, the room reopens with a varying degree of new restrictions. Just thirty tables (instead of the usual 77 tables) are open, and each has been distanced from the rest. Moreover, there are barriers and dividers between tables and players. While no tournament games are expected to take place in the immediate future, cash games are on the menu.
The Borgata also requires its players to wear face masks, and while drinks are being offered, no food will be served on the casino’s premises. Regular hand sanitising stations have also been set up to welcome back players at the casino. For now, no spectators will be allowed into the poker room, and it is not yet known if other casinos in Atlantic City will follow Borgata’s lead and open their own doors.
The Shift to Online Gambling Poses Fresh Problems
The amount of time it is likely to take for casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas to recover may not be the only issue facing them. Many states have turned an eye towards regulated online casino gambling, with games mooted, too. As a result, several major US operators have explored avenues which could see them shift their business online. While this would raise a significant amount of revenue for the ailing casinos, it could also permanently damage many land-based casinos. Similar results have been found in European countries, many of which have fully regulated online casino industries. The land-based casino and gambling industry in the US is changing, and whether many of Las Vegas’ brick-and-mortar casinos pull through remains to be seen.