Gaming industry recovery won’t be swift

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Don’t expect a V-shaped recovery for the gaming industry in Las Vegas and the rest of the country, but one that stretches out over three years, a credit agency said Thursday in a report.

Fitch Ratings said the U.S. gaming sector recovery after the reopenings “will be slowed by economic headwinds and operating and travel restraints stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that are expected to linger into 2021, resulting in a u-shaped recovery.”

Revenue will “decline considerably in 2020, with the decline relative to 2019, tapering off in 2021 and a full recovery in revenue and earnings to pre-coronavirus levels not anticipated until 2023,” according to the report.

Fitch said it assumes a 30 percent revenue decline for regional properties and 45 percent decline for the Las Vegas Strip operators in 2020.

The declines in 2021 compared to 2019 are assumed to be 10 percent for regionals and 20 percent for the Strip, the report said.

“Generally, Fitch is forecasting a roughly three-year recovery to pre-pandemic levels for the gaming sector,” the report said. “Recovery will be the slowest on the Strip given its greater reliance on inbound visitation, air capacity and conventions. Regionals are less cyclical than Las Vegas and should recover quicker as they have mostly local, drive-in visitation.”

Uneven reopening schedules that “hinge on progress against the pandemic” will also affect sector recovery, Fitch said. As of early June, casinos are open in nine major US gaming jurisdictions, including Nevada and Pennsylvania, with some signs of immediate pent-up demand, the report said.

“Casino openings come with restrictions, most notably on occupancy levels and limitations on gaming positions with a 50 percent slots capacity being common,” the report said.

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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