Las Vegas: No buffets, but Baby Boomers back to Boyd David McKee, CDC Gaming Reports · June 16, 2021 at 2:16 pm Boyd Gaming CFO Josh Hirsberg met with JP Morgan analysts this week and shared a variety of insights into company management’s thinking. Addressing one hot topic among local Las Vegas customers, Boyd’s primary constituency, Hirsberg said that all buffets were closed and there were no plans to reopen any of them. Also remaining closed are Main Street Station downtown and Eastside Cannery on the Boulder Strip. Hirsberg said that the two casinos’ customers have been successfully rerouted to nearby Boyd properties and that any reopening would be driven strictly by demand. The Boyd CFO admitted that the company is somewhat pressed for workers, due to the high level of Nevada unemployment benefits and the effects of federal stimulus payments. However, he expects this to ease as such benefits recede and that, in the words of Morgan lead analyst Joseph Greff, “quality of service remains strong.” The company does not intend to offer signing bonuses or other incentives to fill shortfalls in the workforce. As for customers, Hirsberg attributed both the decline in COVID-19 cases and increase in vaccinations with bringing back Baby Boomers, i.e, those 55 and over. This is part of a wider and “meaningful” (in Greff’s words) growth in visitation to Boyd casinos. By making do with less, both in labor and marketing, Hirsberg explained, unrated casino gaming was some of the most profitable for Boyd. Unrated play represented fully half of March’s gaming volume, up 60 percent from pre-COVID levels. However, Hirsberg anticipates a growth in casino revenue from members of its B Connected players club and a decrease in lower-level unrated gambling. “Spend levels have been strong across the database and regions, tracking near pre-COVID levels,” Greff wrote. “Stimulus/enhanced unemployment benefits have likely provided some boost to near-term results, primarily in the unrated/lower-end rated play segments, though the underlying consumer remains strong, benefiting from higher savings rates and portfolio appreciation over the past year.” The company looks forward to higher profit margins, Hirsberg said, especially given the revision of its marketing thrust. This had been contemplated as early as the beginning of 2020 (when business was at peak levels), but was accelerated in response to the pandemic and its effects on business. Boyd is surveying customers and enlarging its database with an eye toward identifying higher-level patrons, while in Greff’s words, “letting the lower-value ones walk away.” The result is expected to be “optimal” company performance.