Caesars plans casino reopenings in three states, announces health and safety program Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 12, 2020 at 6:55 am Caesars Entertainment said Monday that it was planning a phased reopening of its gaming properties in four markets, covering three states, that have been closed by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. In a statement released separately with the company’s first-quarter earnings, Caesars said the reopenings would be based on business demand, and only when permitted by regulators or tribal governments. The company also said it has developed a “comprehensive health and safety program” that will it utilize as part of the reopening. Caesars initially plans to reopen its nine Las Vegas resorts, three properties in Atlantic City, two casinos in Lake Tahoe, and the Harrah’s and Horseshoe properties in Council Bluffs, Iowa. CEO Tony Rodio also said on Monday’s first-quarter conference call that Louisiana could reopen casinos by Memorial Day weekend and that North Carolina is looking to open casinos in a few weeks. Caesars operates properties in both markets. Rodio said Caesars would initially open Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and at least one of the “value-oriented properties” on the east side of Strip. He said others could open quickly. If there is no spike in COVID-19 cases in Nevada following the phased reopening, Rodio suggested Strip properties could open before the end of May. In some additional color, Rodio told analysts that the company’s Las Vegas properties saw a boost in hotel room reservations for the fourth quarter, when the NFL’s upcoming schedule was announced, which included the home games for the first season of the Las Vegas Raiders. Caesars said the company will increase staffing and open other amenities such as restaurants and live entertainment “in line with consumer demand and guidance from public health authorities.” On April 3, Caesars furloughed 93% of its 64,000-person workforce at 53 properties in 14 states. “We are implementing new protocols focused on the well-being of our team members, guests, and communities to create environments with high standards of sanitization and physical distancing practices,” Rodio said in a statement. “We are working closely with public health authorities, gaming regulators, and infectious disease specialists to design our plan.” Among the health and safety measures being introduced at Caesars properties include enhanced cleaning and sanitization of public spaces and guest rooms. Caesars will utilize social distancing practices and provide all employees with a mask, which they will be required to wear while at work. Some Caesars employees, including housekeeping and security, may receive additional PPE, such as gloves, based on their role and if required by applicable government or tribal bodies. The company will also limit table game spots and slot machines, and spaces where guests or employees queue, including check-in, elevator lobbies, taxi lines, employee break rooms, and cafeterias, will be clearly marked for appropriate social distancing. Caesars will also implement a health screening program for all employees as part of the process, and will also provide all employees an additional 10 paid COVID sick days through Dec. 31 if they or someone in their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Eldorado merger Rodio said little about the company’s planned $17.3 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts. Eldorado is the acquiring company; its management will control the merged operation out of its corporate offices in Reno, Nevada. Last month, Twin River Worldwide Holdings agreed to buy Bally’s Atlantic City from Caesars and real estate investment trust VICI Properties for a combined $25 million. In January, the company sold Harrah’s Reno, one of the Nevada gaming industry’s historic landmarks, for $50 million to an investment group that will convert the aging hotel-casino into a non-gaming hotel and mixed-use development. Rodio said on the conference call that the deal could be completed by the end of June. The transaction still requires approval from regulatory agencies in Nevada, New Jersey, and Indiana, along with the Federal Trade Commission. First Quarter results In the quarter that ended March 31, Caesars saw its overall revenues decline 13.6% to $1.83 billion, due primarily to the shutdowns of its nationwide casino portfolio in March. The company’s Las Vegas casinos saw revenues drop 13.9% and 13.5% in regional markets The company’s cash flow fell 46.8% in the quarter, while net income was $189 million. Before the casino closures, Rodeo said Caesars had “posted our best operating performance since 2008 in the first two months of the quarter.” Shares of Caesars closed at $9.67, down 3 cents or 0.31%. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.