Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg informed CNBC on Thursday the return of business conventions to Las Vegas looks promising after a coronavirus pandemic-induced slowdown.
“Our forward bookings both for the second half of this year and into  are extremely strong,” Reeg mentioned in an interview with CNBC’s Contessa Brewer on “The Exchange.” “Business groups are wanting to come back. We’ve just got to make sure that we can accommodate them,” added Reeg.
Caesars is approaching future occasions with extra uncertainty than earlier than the pandemic, in keeping with Reeg. One on the near-term horizon is the World of Concrete, which is ready to be held on the Las Vegas Convention Center in early June. The occasion for the concrete and masonry industries has drawn over 60,000 folks in pre-Covid years.
“We’re presuming more attrition than normal for any group that is booked coming up. We just don’t know how quickly people are going to come back,” Reeg mentioned.
Caesars shares rose virtually 4% in Thursday’s session to roughly $96 apiece. The inventory is up 28% thus far this 12 months and up about 425% previously 12 months.
Las Vegas was hit exhausting by the pandemic as well being restrictions meant to sluggish the virus unfold led to obligatory closures of accommodations, casinos and eating places within the tourism-reliant metropolis. After a leisure, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak carried out extra strict virus mitigation measures in November in response to rising coronavirus instances.
“The case rates here were pretty scary, to be candid. As the cases pulled back, we’ve seen the restrictions ease and we’ve seen business come back,” Reeg mentioned, including he hopes continued enchancment within the public well being state of affairs can result in “further loosening that would allow us to offer full services to all of our group business that’s coming.”
“You’re certainly … going to be wearing masks for the foreseeable future,” he added.
As Covid vaccinations have accelerated this 12 months, on line casino operators are seeing constructive indicators for their companies. Last month, Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden informed CNBC he was seeing “revenues and volumes that I haven’t seen in years.”
Caesars — which says it is the biggest casino-entertainment firm within the nation — noticed a extremely sturdy pickup in demand starting in February, Reeg mentioned. At its regional properties, positioned in quite a few states together with Indiana, Iowa and Arizona, the restoration has been “extraordinary,” Reeg mentioned. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there.”
Public well being officers within the U.S. have continued to emphasize to Americans that, regardless of progress on vaccines, the nation’s Covid restoration nonetheless faces challenges, comparable to extremely contagious variants. The trajectory of the pandemic in Michigan, particularly, is inflicting concern.
“This is a critical moment in our fight against the pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rachelle Walensky mentioned final week. “We can’t afford to let our guard down.”