How long can Las Vegas casino companies survive a COVID-19 shutdown?

Wednesday 25th March 2020

LAS VEGAS - The spread of COVID-19 and subsequent shutdown of casinos across the U.S. is putting the cash reserves of major resort companies in Sin City to the test.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered a 30-day closure for all businesses, turning the Strip - home of the most iconic hotel-casinos in the world - into a ghost town.

As the pandemic expands and the number of cases accelerates, there's no telling whether the lockdown will be extended in coming days and weeks, and that element of the unknown raises an important question within this tourist-dependent corridor:

Projections vary.

After crunching "cash burn" data, some analysts contend companies like MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment have money to last anywhere from eight to 16 months, according to Barron's.

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That translates to 239 days of liquidity for Caesars and 563 days for MGM Resorts.

Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands - companies with a strong gaming presence in China - both have 15-20 months of cash available to wait out the pandemic, according to Macquarie Research Analyst Chad Beynon.

Macquarie released a report this week detailing just how much cash these casino companies are burning every day with no vacationers visiting properties - and how long they can stay closed without running out of money.

"It ranges from five months to a year and a half," Beynon said, "because of obligations they have to the banks, to their employees and to projects."

Here's a look at what Macquarie's analysis found:

"The daily burn will remain the same," Beynon said. "The only thing that could change by the day is if you're laying off employees - but you can only cut so much. I don't think the daily burn changes. Only the amount of time they have left changes."

Each month the Nevada tourism industry is shut down there are $4.7 billion in estimated economic losses, according to the American Gaming Association.

The fallout could be even more devastating on a national level.

"In total, these mass closures will rob the U.S. economy of $43.5 billion in economic activity if American casinos remain closed for the next eight weeks," AGA president Bill Miller said.

Casinos are now in line to ask Congress for emergency funds to bail the industry out of financial trouble as the pandemic batters tourism markets across the U.S.

The industry seeks possibilities that could include direct cash payments, deferred taxes, or special bankruptcy protections, according to the Washington Post.

"Gaming employees, their families, and communities are bearing the brunt of this economic standstill and will continue to suffer if Congress and the administration don't take immediate action," Miller said.

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