Resorts World Las Vegas got formal approval Thursday to become the first megaresort to open on the Strip since 2010 as the Nevada Gaming Commission celebrated the full reopening of the gaming industry.
Resorts World President Scott Sibella confirmed to the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday that his property is on track to open June 24th despite the Strip’s challenge over hiring staff. A project of Malaysia-based Genting Group, Resorts World will be the first Strip resort to open since The Cosmopolitan in December 2010.
The opening is expected to generate a lot of excitement and bring tourists to Las Vegas in what analysts say will be a strong recovery over the summer. That rebound will also be aided by conventions with tens of thousands of people returning this summer as well to fill rooms midweek.
Commission Chairman John Moran reflected on the past 14 months of the pandemic in which casinos were shuttered for more than 2 ½ months in spring 2020 before reopening June 4th. The recovery was slow out of the gate and ebbed and flowed with capacities lowered from 50% to 25% as COVID-19 cases rose late last fall. Only this month were casinos with state guidance able to drop a mask mandate for vaccinated customers and return to 100% capacity. Effective June 1st, Clark County will place no restrictions on large gatherings.
“It seems like forever we have been addressing the COVID pandemic problem that descended on all of us for over a year plus,” Moran said. “Nevada and gaming are now back and headed towards full operations and we’re doing quite well in getting back to where we were.”
When Resorts World Las Vegas opens its doors, Sibella told commissioners what people see won’t be what the 88-site eventually becomes. He said that 95% of the $4.3-billion property with its 3,500 hotel rooms will open at 11 p.m. to the public that day. Its 5,000-seat theater that will be hosting Celine Dion and other performers won’t open until November.
Sibella said only seven million square feet of 10 million square feet has been developed. There’s plenty of land for expansion, he said.
“We have the land and built it purposely with these open areas where we can add more rooms and more attractions,” Sibella said. “Covid hit and we put that on the side (for now) and concentrated on getting this open on time and on budget. When we get up and running, we will be open to listen to ideas, but the plan is to add more rooms and create a city within a city and add more attractions.”
Resorts World’s 3,500 rooms are operated by Hilton and its ultra-luxury brand Crockfords. Hilton Will have 1,774 rooms, while its Conrad brand will have 1,496 rooms. Crockfords will have 236 rooms. Sibella said the 130 million people in the Hilton Honors program means the property will have a strong start and gear up quickly.
“With them sending something out, we’re better than we thought,” Sibella said. “Every day gets better. They’re starting to see our commercial, and the word gets out. Normally, you would do this six months ago but with COVID we didn’t hit the market until 60 days out. We’re even seeing conventions booked for next year and late this year and hitting all of the goals we wanted to achieve.”
Resorts World has a 117,000 square-foot casino, 1,400 slots, 117 table games, and 30 poker tables. There are even private salons on the fifth floor and the 66th floor. Genting will operate its own sportsbook and assume the risks.
Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey said she’s excited for Genting to join the Strip operators with such an “incredible project built on that land.”
Commissioner Deborah Fuetsch, who this week announced she’s stepping down from her position, praised Genting for their investment and what the project brings to the city at a time Las Vegas is recovering from the pandemic. Genting acquired the former Stardust site and mothballed project from Boyd Gaming in 2013.
“From a financial perspective you look like you’re in a great place with cash and working capital, and you’re conservative on your projections,” Fuetsch said. “I think it’s a big green light for you and the state.”
Sibella said another 4,000 people will be hired in the next three weeks to ramp up to 5,500. Some 80% have been offered positions. About 125,000 people applied and candidates have come from Nevada and other states, he said.
“It’s been a little bit more difficult with other properties (opening capacity and their hiring),” Sibella said. “We feel like we’re going to be okay. What we’re concerned about now is that we made all of the offers and they’ve accepted. But what if they change their mind and not show up. I think by the time we open things, it will get better. I just saw the Venetian is doing a job fair. They have never done one in 20 years. It is a concern, and we’re all over it but we think we’ll be okay.”