In June, just a few short months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Vegas boldly decided to re-open. It’s easy to mock that decision in retrospect - and you should. But if you can remember back to the distant era that was June 2020, you might also remember that it was a different time. Cases had been on a downward trend since April. Businesses across states were starting to reopen and the light of a return to normal life was beginning to shine.
But as we now know, that bliss didn’t last. And casinos are eating it. Brazenly reopening casinos in favor of short-sighted returns and recovery proved almost immediately to be a terrible idea, and has driven some of the biggest names on the Vegas Strip into a corner that only one big name seems to be emerging out of.
💎 Data Digs
- In June, we found that MGM experienced a massive spike in Facebook Talking about counts ahead of its reopening. But MGM wasn't the only casino to get the boost in buzz. Caesar’s also saw more chatter later on, whereas Wynn Casinos generated the most excitement, soaring to counts about 16,000 higher than MGM.
- However, the excitement fell off - and fast. It took less than a month for MGM and Wynn's talking about count to sink below pre-COVID territory, coinciding perfectly with the rapid increase in COVID cases across the country; A rise perhaps brought on by businesses reopening too fast and loose exactly like Casinos did.
- Excitement isn't the only thing disappearing: Jobs are, too. Most of the major casinos were hiring rather aggresively before they reopened, and quickly slashed open positions down from the thousands down to the 30s. Almost every casino has gone through massive waves of furlough or layoffs as well - definitive proof that reopening in June did nothing to help ease the pain of COVID, and in fact made it worse.
- While Caesar's is once again increasing its hiring, MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands have yet to fully recover from the blow of this summer season - usually the busiest on the strip
⚔️ Big Picture
- Casinos are perhaps the most visible example of what it would look like if businesses that rely on mass gatherings reopened during the pandemic, and it doesn't look good. It's worth noting that other similar industries - like sports and live music - have instituted heavy restrictions on fan attendance or prevented mass gatherings all together. The only groups you'll see at MLB games are groups of cardboard cutouts in the stands so the stadiums don't look ghostly and sad.
- August is typically a slow season for business at casinos, with attendance picking up around major holidays or once weather becomes more temperate, as it's becoming now. Caesar's increased hiring could be a signal of another attempt to unroll the red carpet and welcome customers back in, but it would likely face significant pushback given how bad it went the last time around.
- The COVID scare has made casinos at least a little more health conscious. MGM announced last week that once it reopens for good, it wil be smoke-free. Casinos and cigarettes go together about as well as roulette and losing your money, so this is a major change for the industry and may show that they've learned at least some lessons from their missteps. That bump in Facebook Talking About Counts last week for MGM is due to the smoking announcement.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.