Monthly Archives: March 2020

Vegas Casinos and “Non-Essential Businesses” to Close in Response to Coronavirus Fears

Governor Steve Sisolak has ordered the closure of all “non-essential businesses” in Nevada, including all its casino resorts, in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Two weeks ago, if somebody had bet us a bajillion dollars we’d ever be writing that sentence, we’d have said, “Never!” and shaken on it. Now, not so much with the hand-shaking.

Nevada elbow bump state

Seriously, let’s make this a thing.

The announcement of closing non-essential businesses caps a brutal couple of weeks in Las Vegas, with a number of casinos closing due to plummeting room occupancy on the Las Vegas Strip, including MGM Resorts casinos as well as Wynn and Encore.

Several casinos announced they’d remain open, but their temporary shut-down is assured, and required, now. Specifically, as of midnight on March 17, 2020.

The “shelter-in-place” strategy to control the coronavirus spread directs everyone to stay in their homes, away from others whenever possible.

Here’s more about the shelter-in-place rules.

A wide variety of businesses will be impacted, with “essential services” remaining open, including airports, banks, grocery stores, postal service, hardware stores, hospitals, urgent care facilities, pharmacies, gas stations and others.

Professional offices, including lawyers, doctors, accountants and realtors will remain open with proper social distancing practices.

All retail malls and stores will be closed.

Restaurants will close, and will be take-out and delivery only.

Yes, bars will close. They are defining “non-essential” really, really broadly, in our opinion.

To-date, 55 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Nevada. One person who contracted coronavirus, with underlying medical problems, has died in the state. Testing has been lacking, so expect that number to jump significantly, which is obviously a concern for everyone.

So, for the moment, Nevada is a no-group-gathering zone.

The mind reels at the impact this shut-down will have, on so many levels, in Las Vegas and beyond.

Station Casinos closed

Twenty casinos closed in one fell swoop.

Casino employees have been hit especially hard in recent weeks, with bad news compounding with each passing day.

We acknowledge defeat expressing the opinion these steps seem extreme given the facts we have about this bug. We get it, better safe than sorry.

The order is expected to be in effect for 30 days, starting at noon on March 18, 2020. About 10 other states have instituted orders along these lines.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this drastic measure. Every time a casino closes, even temporarily, an angel loses its wings. There are metric ass-ton of wingless angels in Las Vegas right now.

Update (3/20/20): Here’s an update on what’s “essential.”

Essential services Nevada

Sorry, anal bleaching shops.

Coronavirus Hysteria Hits Las Vegas and Everything is Ruined

We haven’t been posting to our blog much lately, and it’s because we’re shell-shocked.

Why? Right now in Las Vegas, the message on those responsible gaming brochures in casinos has never been more relevant: “When the fun stops.”

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Las Vegas is in the throes of a full-fledged crisis: Coronavirus, and its associated hysteria, have caused major conventions to cancel and many leisure travelers to bail on visits, sending hotel occupancy into a tailspin, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.

mother nature

Yeah, we said it.

While there have been just 18 confirmed (“presumptive positive”) cases of coronavirus in Las Vegas, it’s hard to adequately describe the impact that news has had on casinos, casino employees and innumerable related businesses.

In a word, devastating.

Many Strip resorts have closed (or plan to close) restaurants (buffets were the first to go), spas, nightclubs and pools. As mentioned, conventions have cancelled to the tune of tens of thousands of room nights.

Cirque du Soleil has temporarily suspended all its Vegas shows, and Caesars Entertainment is expected to announce the same for its shows.

The avalanche of bad news has come fast and furious, online and off.

We’ve tried to keep it light to provide some levity and perspective, but there are few bright spots at the moment.

Howard Hughes

If you don’t get it, you’re not Vegas enough.

There’s too much news, changing too quickly, to keep up with it all or chronicle it here. You’re better off hitting Twitter for the rapidly-changing news.

Opinions vary widely about whether the response to the coronavirus is commensurate with the threat (we lean strongly toward no), but there can be no disagreement this is a Las Vegas we’ve never seen before, nor did anyone imagine we’d ever see.

Las Vegas has proven itself to be resilient following tragedies like 9/11, the mass shooting of Oct. 1, 2017 and 2008 financial crisis.

Knowing Vegas will bounce back doesn’t make what’s happening any less startling or distressing, though. When you love something as much as we love Las Vegas, the heartbreak is all the more devastating.

Our crystal ball is typically pretty reliable, but at the moment, even we can’t foresee what’s next for Sin City. Literally nobody could’ve predicted hotels on the Las Vegas Strip would have occupancy rates of 10% and less. The unimaginable has become reality.

Las Vegas

Welcome to the daily cavalcade of WTF.

Optimism demands we believe the coronavirus will pass as the flu season always does, but the affect of the scare will linger much longer, financially and otherwise.

The most recent and alarming specter in this saga is the potential for Las Vegas casinos to close entirely. Which is a sentence we never thought we’d type, even after seeing the casinos in Macau, China and elsewhere shuttered. (Update below.)

Our best goes out to those affected by this confounding, surreal mess, and they are legion.

Here’s to Vegas weathering this storm as it has so many others, and let’s hope the dramatic steps being taken are worth the cost and achieve the desired results.

Update (3/15/20): Wynn and Encore have announced they’ll close temporarily. The resorts will close April 17 at 6:00 p.m. The closure is expected to last two weeks.

Wynn Encore closing

Gut punch number infinity.

We’re hearing these won’t be the only casino closures, so check back for updates.

Update (3/15/20): MGM Resorts has announced it will close its Las Vegas resorts as of midnight, March 16, 2020.

MGM Resorts closed

The surrealness is real.

Update (3/16/20): The Cosmopolitan will be temporarily closed through March 31, 2020.

Cosmo closing

Can we be done with this nightmare, already? Thanks.

Update (3/17/20): The Venetian and Palazzo are closing until at least April 1, 2020.

Cirque’s Financial and Critical Disaster “R.U.N.” to Close at Luxor

“R.U.N.” at Luxor has confirmed what we’ve been saying for months, the show will soon be put out of its misery. Cirque du Soleil says it will close for good on March 8, 2020. It opened October 24, 2019.

It’s hard to overstate the level of WTF associated with this doomed-from-day-one show.

“R.U.N.” was savaged in online reviews and cost $62 million (some say it was substantially more). Our sources say the show has been losing about $1.6 million a month for its four-month run.

Not only was this the biggest financial disaster in the history of Las Vegas entertainment, “R.U.N.” also had the shortest run of any Cirque show in Vegas history.

RUN

“R.U.N.” made dumpster fires cringe.

“R.U.N.” billed itself as “a living, breathing graphic novel that’s non-stop tire-peeling, fist-flinging and double-crossing action including combat stunts, fast-paced car chases, cutting-edge technology and innovative multimedia.”

While we obviously feel for the performers who will lose their jobs when the show closes, we have issues with the bullshittery the show tried to pull by encouraging (and possibly paying) people to post glowing reviews to try and stem the avalanche of posts trying to steer people away from this baffling misfire.

Many of the fake reviews used approved talking points, many along the lines of “People only hate this show because it’s not a typical Cirque show.”

This delusional assertion was just one of many gross miscalculations made by the show’s producers and creative team.

The only “confusion” about “R.U.N.” was audience members expecting an entertaining show and, instead, getting one with a bewildering plot, graphic sadism, poorly-executed fight scenes and excruciatingly loud music.

Or, as reviewer Chris G. put it so eloquently on TripAdvisor, “Makes you embarrassed to be human.”┬áHonorable mention to Troyl H. who wrote, “Getting to leave is the highlight.”

“R.U.N.” was so bad, we hated it and never even saw it. Here’s a look.

Among the missteps was having feature film director Robert Rodriguez write it. Robert Rodriguez, of course, is known for his Writers Guild Award-winning scripts for movies like “Machete,” “Machete Kills” and the upcoming “Machete Kills in Space.” Oh, and “Spy Kids.”

The show’s director was Michael Schwandt, and the performance and action designer was Rob Bollinger.

As the future of “R.U.N.” began to grow dim, we hear Cirque called in a new director to overhaul the show. The new director was out quickly, as even good directors can’t perform miracles with a fundamentally flawed concept.

As we reported in early February 2020, buzz from insiders was TPG Capital (majority owner of Cirque du Soleil) was out of patience and said it wouldn’t invest another dime. The show’s fate was sealed.

While Cirque has taken a massive financial hit from “R.U.N.,” the company continues to dominate the Las Vegas entertainment scene. We understand the average occupancy for Cirque shows across Las Vegas sits at about 70 percent, although that’s down from 80-plus percent a decade ago.

We hear the company makes upwards of $120 million a year from its Las Vegas shows alone.

RUN biker

Wheelies were popped, as were dreams.

Still, the financial damage from “R.U.N.” certainly won’t help the company’s extreme level of debt, which is rumored to be in excess of a billion dollars, leading to speculation the company could file for bankruptcy protection at some point.

Moody’s investor service reports Cirque has a “high level of discretionary borrowing, continued underperformance in several key areas previously targeted for growth as well as relative
stagnation of its existing core performing arts business.”

Moody’s adds, “We believe the company’s largely debt-funded expansion strategy could be unsustainable, resulting in financial strain on core operations and leaving minimal flexibility to address operating weaknesses when they arise.”

We love us some Cirque, but no more tire-peeling and double-crossing, please.

RUN closed

There’s no denying it was “unique.” With quotation marks. In case that wasn’t clear.

There’s no word on what might replace “R.U.N.” at Luxor, but a contender is a magic show called “The Illusionists.” The Broadway magic show recently bumped “R.U.N.” at a charity event at Luxor. It was awkward, but makes more sense in light of “R.U.N.” closing.

Best of luck to the intrepid performers and stunt persons who did their best to give “R.U.N.” a shot at success, and here’s hoping Cirque can lick its wounds and deliver more of the company’s distinctive brand of brilliance in the future to help purge the memory of “R.U.N.” from our collective memory.