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MGM Resorts talks about casino re-opening and post-COVID life

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Hornbuckle spoke this week with investors about the current state of the company and what casino re-openings might look like in Nevada and Macau. Hornbuckle, who has only been with MGM Resorts since March, painted an optimistic picture and spoke freely of casinos re-opening and travelers walking through their doors, even if the numbers are nowhere near what they were in the pre-lockdown world.

Land-based casinos across the planet are facing a major crisis and are focusing on what re-opening might look like. In MGM’s case, with operations across the world, Hornbuckle suggested that the company would focus on starting with some of its smaller properties like New York, New York. With only 2,000 rooms, Hornbuckle sees the hotel and casino at the far end of the Vegas Strip as a good place to start because it’s one of the company’s “simpler” operations. That said, Hornbuckle is keen to get the Bellagio back in action because he wants that “high end business.”

Hornbuckle said MGM resorts in Las Vegas are focusing on what he calls “drive-in business.” By that he means travelers who are driving in from surrounding states, mainly California. That drive-in business will also play a major role in the re-opening of properties in Mississippi and Maryland. He’s taken the realist’s view that planeloads of rowdy travelers won’t be storming Vegas casinos anytime soon.

On the Macau front, Hornbuckle said that there’s plenty of pent-up demand in the market and that business could be going well there by July. The main roadblock at this point, he told investors, is a continued travel ban in the region.

All told, MGM Resorts is relatively well-positioned to weather the COVID-19 storm and has re-booked as much as 50 percent of the business that had cancelled as a result of the current crisis.