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Casino CEOs say the industry is not yet seeing signs of recession, but is ready for a pullback

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Evan Savar and Nabu Reyes, each of Nevada, play blackjack with dealer Leah Prerost on the Red Rock Resort after the property opened for the primary time since being closed on March 17 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, on June 4, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Las Vegas has yet to see signs of a looming recession, in response to the CEO of two major casinos.

Bill Hornbuckle, the CEO of MGM Resorts International, said at CNBC’s Evolve Global Summit on Wednesday that he expects inflation and rising gas prices will eventually impact his business, but that “it hasn’t yet.”

“What’s happened over the past 18 months has literally been historic, but should you have a look at how we thought we can be performing against how we’re performing, we’re exactly where we thought we can be,” Hornbuckle said.

Despite soaring inflation, gaming revenue in May was up 7.9% in comparison with the identical time last yr, in response to the American Gaming Association. And March, April and May represented the three best months within the industry’s history, with each surpassing a complete revenue of $5 billion.

Jim Allen, Hard Rock International’s CEO, nonetheless, warned in May that record inflation is impacting his customers, while Red Rock Resorts CEO Frank Fertitta III said in his quarterly earnings call on May 3 that rising prices are only impacting individuals who spend the least.

Despite increases in the prices of food and gas, amongst other things, technological adaptations made during Covid — akin to pods and different gaming-floor configurations —have allowed MGM Resorts to bring more millennials into its casinos than ever before.

“It’s brought millennials to the table in a way that they’ve not been before on this industry. We now have more millennial business than we have ever had by 20%,” Hornbuckle said. “I’m extremely optimistic in regards to the space.”

Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings, meanwhile, is confident that it could possibly weather one other economic challenge if needed.

“I do think the industry here in Las Vegas is healthier prepared, due to Covid, to know the levers we want to tug to make it through whatever does come,” Billings said.

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