Las Vegas to bounce back like the Roaring '20s, casino exec predicts

Tuesday 1st December 2020

Steve Marcus

Tourists are shown on the Las Vegas Strip Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

By Bryan Horwath (contact)

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 | 2 a.m.

Once the pandemic subsides, Las Vegas could recover like the "Roaring '20s" with economic prosperity, according to one casino executive.

"People are going to want to get out and have a good time," Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said in an interview with Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce President Peter Guzman. The chamber released the video interview Monday.

"I think the future of Las Vegas is bright. I think Las Vegas can establish itself as the place to go to let loose," Maddox continued. "It's what we've always been, but I think it's something we can really lean into to get us going again."

In October, according to the most-recent statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the city welcomed about 1.9 million visitors. That was down nearly 50% from the same month in 2019, as tourism remains sluggish because of the pandemic.

While Maddox lauded Las Vegas' "long-term" recovery prospects, he said there will likely be more short-term pain for a city hit hard by the economic crisis. The jobless rate, which at the outset of the pandemic in the spring was at 30%, is about 12%.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Southern Nevada -- more than 1,600 new cases were reported by health officials Monday -- and in many other parts of the country, visitor numbers aren't expected to improve in the coming weeks.

"It'll take a couple years, but the future is bright," Maddox said. "I think by summer, we'll be back. Conventions won't be back then because business travel will take forever, but vaccines will be rolling out and testing will be widespread. People will be ready to be back with other people. I think we'll start to feel that momentum in February or March."

Though perhaps known generally more for its casinos, Maddox said Las Vegas has in recent years morphed into a place that is known almost as much for its mass gatherings at places like sporting events, nightclubs and shows.

"Once people get out again and get a taste of what it's like to be around other people, it's electric," Maddox said. "We need to be leading in this country to help get people back together. People are going to want to dress up and go out and be around people once it's safe. I think it will be similar to the Roaring '20s after the pandemic of 1918 and 1919. It was like 'oh my God, we survived this, let's go have fun.'"

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