In a Nutshell
- MGM has reassigned its top managers as it waits for a word on whether the state will impose further COVID-19 restrictions on casinos.
- The company’s CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle announced the reshuffling last week.
- Gaming experts believe the leadership changes are an attempt to save MGM, a company that hasn’t been performing well even before the pandemic.
- Gov. Steve Sisolak could tighten the noose for casinos if the surge in COVID-19 cases continues.
MGM Resorts International has once again restructured its top management amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The move comes as casino operators in Nevada stare at an uncertain future, given that Gov. Steve Sisolak is weighing additional pandemic-related restrictions.
Corey Sands is going back to the position of the chief operating officer under the company’s rearrangement plan, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He will maintain that post until the company finds a replacement.
The Review-Journal report said Atif Rafiq will leave as MGM’s president of commercial and growth. The president and chief operating officer of the company’s Las Vegas portfolio, Anton Nikodemus, will become CityCenter’s president.
Heading the Park MGM and Bellagio resorts will be Ann Hof, previously MGM’s chief marketing officer, the report continues.
MGM CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle announced the reshuffling last week in an internal memo.
When asked about the reassignments, Boston College finance officer Rev. Richard McGowan, who closely follows the gambling industry, recalled how MGM offered $750 million in senior notes in October.
“MGM just received $750 million in new financing, so the thought is that new management will bring new ideas on how to utilize those funds,” he said. “Even before the pandemic, MGM was not doing well at all. So, in many ways, this is an attempt to save the firm.”
McGowan added that the new leadership should “reduce the number of operations and increase the profitability of the remaining casinos. They also need to increase the entertainment portion of their casino operations.”
In May, when executive layoffs happened at MGM’s properties, McGowan envisaged, “I would be very surprised if more layoffs did not happen. The casino industry in those areas where there is too much saturation will be experiencing complete closures.”
Distinguished Fellow of Gaming Law at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law Anthony Cabot noted that the majority of big casinos are struggling with how to cut costs until business returns to “normal in about six months.”
It will take several months for a coronavirus vaccine to be widely available in the country. However, a recent spike in new cases is threatening a limited recovery in the gaming industry.
Last month, Sisolak ordered Nevada casinos and restaurants to cut their capacity from the previous 50% to 25%, a directive that will be in effect for at least three weeks.
Sisolak could impose further restrictions on Nevada businesses in case the numbers do not come down.
Nevada health officials reported 2,511 new COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths Sunday, bringing the total tally of cases and fatalities in the state to 168,139 and 2,315, respectively.