If you are planning on playing poker at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas starting next week, you will need to change course slightly and head next door to the Wynn. Wynn Las Vegas, the company that owns both casinos, announced on Tuesday that Encore is will only be a part-time property beginning Monday. Its poker room will still be open every day, but it will move over to the Wynn.
The reason: the COVID-19 pandemic has slashed visitor traffic. Because of this, Encore will close at noon this coming Monday and then only be open from Thursdays at 2:00pm through Mondays at 12:00pm.
On Monday, the poker room will move to the Wynn in a space on the casino floor near the parking garage. It will be open seven days a week, so it sounds like, aside from the change in venue, things will be relatively normal for poker players. Why is the poker room continuing to operate every day and not the other games? Likely because it can. For the most part, all they have to do is move the tables (or borrow some from Wynn), chips, and cards, and they can setup the poker room. Not a ton of space is needed, either.
There is no set date for the Encore to get back to normal. The company said the schedule will be Thursday to Monday “indefinitely until consumer demand for Las Vegas increases.”
And consumer demand is understandably terrible in Las Vegas right now. In February, before the nationwide pandemic shutdowns, 3.3 million people visited the city, among them 760,300 conventiongoers. Though most casinos are now open, Las Vegas casinos only had 1.5 million visitors in August and absolutely zero people attended conventions.
In February, 83 percent of the city’s hotel rooms were filled midweek. In August, just 34 percent.
“There’s a threshold that properties are likely crossing at a point here where the income that they’re getting from weekend travel just isn’t enough to sustain normal operations,” Greg Chase, CEO of Experience Strategy Associates hospitality consulting group, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
It is entirely possible that partial operations will continue to be a trend in Las Vegas. Of course, casinos haven’t opened all of their services for safety reasons, but hotels seem to be the next option for shutdowns. Planet Hollywood’s casino floor is still open daily, but it is only taking hotel reservations Thursdays through Sundays. The Palazzo’s hotel is not taking weekday reservations.
UNLV hospitality professor Amanda Belarmino told the Review-Journal that without a vaccine, people just don’t want to hop on planes and head to Vegas for business or a convention. Remote learning is also keeping parents at home to be with their kids, rather than traveling for work.
She also said that the decision by Wynn is a responsible move and while it is clearly not a good thing for employees, it is better than uncertainty, allowing them to plan for downtime better or find other employment.