(Kimberly James) – Las Vegas casinos are beginning to shut down in response to the novel coronavirus, with MGM Resorts Properties closing all of its casinos Tuesday, along with the Wynn, Encore and The Cosmopolitan.
The state also announced its first coronavirus death Monday, a man in his 60s who had underlying health conditions and who had been hospitalized. As of Tuesday morning, 45 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state.
With the gaming industry driving much of Las Vegas’ economy, what impact will a global pandemic have on a city that normally sees tens of millions of visitors each year?
Stephen Miller, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, told The Center Square that a hypothetical analysis of a three-month avian flu event resulting in 20 percent decline in leisure and hospitality would lead to an estimated loss of 37,000 jobs and $3.7 billion in gross regional product.
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas already is seeing a noticeable decrease in the number of passengers each day.
Companies are telling their employees to avoid nonessential travel and large gatherings. Many conventions and trade shows have been postponed or canceled, which has a major impact on the local economy that sees as many as 24,000 conventions each year.
In addition to the loss of convention visitors, the loss of individual visitors affects restaurants, hotels, entertainment and shopping venues, clubs, concerts and sporting events, according to Miller.
Miller says that how quickly and how well the Las Vegas economy recovers depends on how long and how precipitous the decline. As an example, he cites the Great Recession, whose steep decline lasted for a long period of time.
“The long-term recovery of the economy will require restoring the tourists’ confidence in the safety of Las Vegas as a tourism site,” Miller said.
Miller adds that the city was able to fully recover after reduced travel and visitors following 9/11 attacks and bouncing back from the Great Recession.
Kimberly James | The Center Square