It was inevitable

As the United States finally starts to embrace the seriousness of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), social distancing has become the key tool in fighting the virus. By staying away from each other, by limiting crowds, we can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. To this end, MGM Resorts International announced on Sunday that it is closing its Las Vegas properties indefinitely.

Casino operations are ceasing Monday, followed by hotel operations. Complete shutdown is scheduled for Tuesday.

“Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” said MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren in a statement.

“….we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus,” he added.

MGM operates a slew of properties in Las Vegas, including Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York, and Park MGM. The company also owns 50 percent of CityCenter, a development that includes both Aria and Vdara.

Many employees out of work

According to a letter obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MGM told full-time employees that are either being furloughed or laid off completely that they will receive just two weeks’ pay. They will, at least, keep their health benefits through June.

Employees on salary “should expect to continue working until further notice,” which is good…I guess?

“We deeply regret the strain it will cause families and our community partners, and we will do all we can to mitigate it,” the Review-Journal quotes the letter. “When we do (reopen), we will be ready to welcome the world back to our properties.”

Hopefully when MGM welcomes the world back, it also welcomes former employees back.

More casinos feel the hurt nationwide

Las Vegas is not the only place where MGM Resorts International is closing its casinos. MGM Grand Detroit closes today. And on Saturday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced that operations at the state’s casinos – Encore Boston Harbor, MGM Springfield, and Plainridge Park Casino – will be suspended. The hope is that the closures are for just two weeks, but that timeframe is looking dubious.

MGM National Harbor in Maryland also closed on Sunday, following an emergency order by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also ordered all New Jersey casinos to close (among other places) on Monday, resulting in the shuttering of MGM’s Borgata.

While the entire stock market got hammered on Monday, MGM was hit particularly hard. MGM Resorts International shares closed at $10.25, a 33.61 percent drop from Friday’s close. It hit its 52-week low of $10.22 during inter-day trading, less than a third of it’s 52-week high, which is $34.64. MGM’s stock has not been this low since late 2012.

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