Las Vegas Sands president Robert Goldstein told CNBC on Thursday that the city of Las Vegas will continue to fight economically as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
“Clearly this is clearly a difficult time for us … and from my point of view, we are looking for some more pain here,” Goldstein said in an interview with CNBC’s Contessa Brewer on “The Exchange.”
Goldstein’s comments come two days after the announcement that CES, the biggest show on US technology, will be an online event only in January due to the coronavirus – another blow to the Las Vegas economy, where CES is held. Last year, the multiday event had more than 171,000 in attendance from around the world.
“Las Vegas … is a large-scale city in whatever way you measure it: 150,000 bedrooms, big congresses, big banquets. It’s big Las Vegas, so not exactly an easy place to go. been in this environment, “said Goldstein, who called CES going virtual” harmful short-term “to the city.
Casinos in Las Vegas closed due to the coronavirus in mid-March and began reopening on June 4th.
Las Vegas is a tourism-dependent destination city, especially with visitors flying inland. For Las Vegas to recover significantly, Goldstein said, a vaccine is needed to prevent Covid-19 or “something that changes consumer perceptions of the virus.” “And I do not see that a short term is happening,” said Goldstein, who is also chief operating officer.
Las Vegas Sands, which generates about 90% of its EBITDA from Macao and Singapore, received relatively positive news this week as the Chinese government will begin issuing wider visas to Macao. The company generates just over 60% of its revenue from Chinese territory and the casino center.
“It’s a step in the right direction, but not a step,” Goldstein said, because the change in visa policy does not yet affect tourists. “We are run by tourists.”
However, Goldstein said he believes a resumption in the critical program known as the individual visitation scheme, or IVS, may not be far off. “I think it will happen during the summer or autumn. It will be slow. It will not be big steps. It will be a series of small steps leading to the full-scale IVS opening for both Guangdong and all of China at one point, “he said. “What a point this is, no one really knows.”
But he added: “We know that the Asian consumer, the Chinese consumer, is very aware of a virus environment. They are used to disguise and gloves, and social distancing and control controls. They will not respond like Americans, to “We also know they’re not going to travel beyond China, so I think Macao will become a very favorable destination when those doors open.”
Shares of Las Vegas Sands were higher by more than 3% on Thursday, surpassing the broader S&P 500, which was slightly negative trading. The company, founded by CEO Sheldon Adelson, reported last week net income fell 97% year-on-year for the quarter ended June 30th. He reported a net loss of $ 985 million for the quarter.
Despite the financial challenges the pandemic has posed to the company, it recently said it was extending its promise to maintain employee benefits and pay at least October 31st. was the only casino operator not hiring or laying off workers due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Adelson thinks that “supporting people in these difficult times is the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, at a time when this city really has some tremendous challenges,” Goldstein said. “But even business wise, we believe this pandemic will eventually go away and we will be at the top of the class in terms of desire for both customers and employees.”
– CNBC’s Contessa Brewer contributed to this report.