Did you check your 401k last week?
If so, were the smelling salts nearby?
To say it was a tough week for the stock market is like saying Deontay Wilder should not lug an extra 40 pounds of weight walking to the ring whenever he fights. Many of you are probably still reeling from the news that the market dropped a record amount the past few days as the entire world tries to deal with the coronavirus.
Trust me, this is no hoax, no media fantasy. This is very, very real and it’s going to impact the gaming industry here in the U.S. It already has cost Macau billions as the casinos there were closed for two weeks. Can you imagine if they shut down the Las Vegas Strip or the Atlantic City Boardwalk for any length of time? The economic devastation would be massive.
One of the biggest events of the calendar year for sportsbooks across the country began Tuesday as March Madness tipped off with conference postseason tournament play. Four conferences (Mountain West, WCC, Pac-12 and WAC) are holding their postseason tournaments in Las Vegas. After that, it’s the NCAA Tournament, where the first four days are going to see tens of thousands of people in town wagering tens of millions of dollars on games in Omaha, Neb., Sacramento, Calif. And Greensboro, N.C. among other locales as the March to Atlanta begins in earnest.
Our Chris Sieroty will give you the grim details from the industry’s perspective on page 23. Take a moment and read it. It will show you the gravity of the situation.
For now, the show will go on. But not all sporting events are going to be staged with any degree of certainty. There’s a very likely possibility the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be cancelled because of the coronavirus. Japan, in case you forgot to attend geography class in grade school, is located close to China, which happens to be the epicenter of the outbreak. Putting 11,000 athletes at risk, not to mention officials, spectators, media and dignitaries is not on the International Olympic Committee’s agenda.
The only times they didn’t hold the Olympics was because of World War II. Ironically, the 1940 Games were scheduled to be held in Tokyo. The 1944 Olympics were scheduled for London. However, there is precedent for cancelling sporting events due to health reasons.
In 1919, the Stanley Cup Final between Seattle and Montreal was cancelled after five games due to an influenza outbreak. The Metropolitans disbanded after the Cup final, which was 2-2-1 when the Spanish Flu resulted in a halt to the proceedings, taking the life of the Canadiens’ Joe Hall in the process. And unlike the Olympics, Hitler and Tojo couldn’t prevent the Cup from being awarded during World War II. Of the Original Six, only the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t hoist the Cup during wartime.
We’re seeing soccer and rugby matches cancelled in Europe. Tennis tournaments are being postponed. Same for auto races in Asia.
What steps will Major League Baseball take to ensure the health of its players and fans? Same for Major League Soccer, which began last weekend. And what if the coronavirus isn’t contained by the time the NFL and college football kick off later this summer?
I could probably think of a joke or two to add some levity to the situation, but that would not be appropriate. And if you think I’m overreaching, then you must be immune to every germ known to man.
If this isn’t contained and it becomes the pandemic many health officials fear, God help us. We’ve dealt with SARS, the Swine Flu epidemic, Ebola and now the coronavirus. Each was damn scary and yet we managed to survive. Hopefully, this latest health crisis will be contained and we’ll reduce the number of deaths worldwide.
But it’s something to think about, even if it’s not a pleasant thought. You get on a plane or you’re in your office and someone coughs or sneezes, are you immediately going to panic and think you’ve caught the coronavirus or assume that person has it? You wake up feeling a tad achy, are you going to rush to the emergency room at your local hospital?
Remember, there are many different strains of flu, virtually all of which can be treated. Even the coronavirus can be treated. Nearly 100,000 people worldwide have contracted it but less than 3,000 deaths have been reported. From a Vegas perspective, those are decent odds that you’ll survive should you be unfortunate enough to catch it.
If you’re planning to join us in Las Vegas this month, by all means, do come. Don’t cancel unless local officials advise you to stay home. It’s going to be a fun month and we’d hate to see you miss out. And if you decide to visit, feel free to wear a surgical mask if it’ll give you peace of mind. If nothing else, it’ll help you deal with the smoke in the casino.
It’s like anything else. If you are proactive, if you’re smart, if you do simple things like washing your hands, getting sufficient rest and eating right, you’ll probably be good to go.
One last piece of advice – try not to peek at your 401k. They haven’t come up with an antidote for a tanking market yet.