The coronavirus chaos has taken its toll on casino operations around the world and, while most operators have been begging to be able to get back in the game, one company apparently doesn’t care about losing tons of money. Station Casinos, which is controlled by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, has decided that four of its venues in Las Vegas can stay closed, and most likely won’t make a return for another year. The prolonged shutdown certainly raises questions as to the motives behind the decision.
According to documents filed with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Palms and Texas Station are designated as being “non-operational” and under a “temp closure” through June 30 of 2021. Given that three-fourths of the casinos in Las Vegas are now back in business and doing well, including other Station properties, it’s peculiar that the company would decide to keep this handful of properties closed. However, the company already determined that it would need to make massive cuts to its workforce, which may have had something to do with the decision. Add to this the fact that it has fought against unionization, and lost, perhaps Station brass is ready to make some permanent changes.
The casino operator, in its typical fashion, hasn’t commented on the situation. It never likes to weigh in on topics that impact the public’s perception of its worthiness, and has only stated, “Due to the uncertain economic conditions in the State of Nevada, Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel will remain closed until further notice, and there is no known reopening date at this time.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there will soon be some more activity at the few Station properties that have already reopened. The media outlet explains that the poker rooms at Boulder Station, Red Rock Resort and Santa Fe Station are going to open August 3; however, as COVID-19 spikes are seen in places like Nevada and California, it’s possible that new lockdown orders may come, which would force the company to change its plans. Las Vegas now has seven poker rooms open, and an eighth – the poker room at the Aria – is expected to open today.
While there is no indication that Station plans on trying to unload any of its properties, which would be nearly impossible right now, the fact that it would seek a year extension on the temporary closure of four venues is a little suspicious. The Fertitta brothers have tried everything they could to prevent casino workers from unionizing, and it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that they’re using the coronavirus situation as a mechanism for making drastic changes to the company’s operations. The request filed with the NGCB, which is expected to be approved at any time, doesn’t necessarily mean the venues will remain closed until next June, but it certainly buys the Fertittas some time to figure out what they want to do.