Craig Billings, Derek Stevens at G2E: Las Vegas "incredibly good" at finding new revenue sources

Speaking at G2E Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings, and Owner and CEO of Circa Resort & Casino Derek Stevens discussed the current situation in the city, interest rates, international business and the small matter of a Las Vegas NBA franchise.

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Circa recently picked up the Property (North America) of the year Award at the 2022 Global Gaming Awards Las Vegas, winning the prize for the second year in a row.

Both executives began by touching on the current scene in Las Vegas, with Stevens noting: “When you see the history of how Caesars has evolved, how MGM Resorts has evolved, and for us how sports betting has evolved, we really revere the history of Vegas and the history of gaming, so we’re just fortunate to be living in this time frankly.”

And when asked if Wynn thought it would ever see the day when Las Vegas and Boston would out-earn its Macau properties, Billings replied: “No, of course not. Of course we didn’t expect that. But Vegas has been a tremendous story. There’s a narrative around here that Vegas consistently reinvents itself. I actually don’t think that’s the case, per se. What I think the town does very, very well is find additional sources of demand and bolt them on.

“So it started with gaming, with the opening of the Mirage it became about more upscale amenities, food and beverage, group and convention, and now sports, and even what Derek is doing Downtown, where I actually think he’s created a sub-segment of the market that are engaging with what he offers down there. And I think Vegas is incredibly good at that.”

As for Wynn’s international business, Billings explained that it is slowly returning, but that China remains challenging amid the current health and safety measures in place there.

“Excluding Asia, we’re seeing international business come back,” he said. “We’re seeing it trickle back. China is the big unknown, but we’ll see how this week goes with the major political events over there.

“There are tailwinds that aren’t here yet, that aren't back yet. And so I’m bullish on Las Vegas. We’re not ignorant or immune to what’s going on in the broader macroeconomy. We’re less impacted by oil and inflation with our aspirational luxury customers, but probably more impacted by the financial markets.”

The discussion developed onto rising rates and how it affects business, with Stevens saying: “I think today you’ve really got two factors; Obviously, liquidity and the higher interest rates in the market is one thing, but number two, the supply chain issues. You end up with more uncertainty in guaranteeing an opening date because there are still so many supply chain related issues, particularly in construction, that kind of change the game.

“I would definitely be more conservative today than maybe what I was three years ago.”

The Circa exec was also quizzed on whether or not Las Vegas will get an NBA franchise, with the executive replying: “It’s not an ‘if’ question, this is a ‘when.’"

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