Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Owners Reportedly Mulling Opening Delay Over COVID-19 Concerns

  • Internal memo from CEO of JC Hospitality to employees indicates likely postponement
  • It voices concerns about possible second surge of COVID-19 in January, continuing restrictions
  • No official decision yet, but January 15 launch date could see delay of at least three weeks
  • Construction setbacks and market conditions led to pushing back of initial November opening
  • Latest restrictions see Nevada casinos currently operating at 25% capacity for three-week period
blue neon sign against a brick-wall background reads "coming soon"
The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas hotel and casino resort may delay its opening date in view of its owners’ pandemic-related concerns. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Coronavirus concerns

The opening date for the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas hotel and casino resort is January 15, 2021, but it now appears that property owner JC Hospitality may look to push back the date.

The popular Vital Vegas blog broke the news about the potential delay and shared it in a tweet:

JC Hospitality CEO and president Richard Bosworth reportedly told employees in an internal memo that a postponement of the hotel-casino property’s launch is likely because of the pandemic. They cited unsettling predictions from health agencies and recent directives from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak as reasons for concern.

Details of the memo

The internal communication outlined the possibility that current restrictions on casinos in Nevada may very well remain in place beyond the established three-week period “if there is no improvement in the COVID-19 crisis.” Bosworth mentioned that either way, the inability to have large gatherings of more than 50 people along with slowed-down county services could impact some of the planned pre-opening activities.

another COVID-19 surge could take place in January

The memo also touched upon forecasts from John Hopkins University and the CDC that another COVID-19 surge could take place in January. This would be right around the time of the casino’s planned opening. Bosworth also pointed out the low occupancy projections for Las Vegas, saying: “It is unclear that if we did open as scheduled, there would be enough business to support scheduling even 50% of our staff.”

The JC Hospitality president added that there has been no final decision to postpone the inauguration. However, he added that it may be wise to wait, in light of continuing travel restrictions and capacity limits. The delay could push back the opening by at least three weeks after the current set date of January 15. 

A landmark property

Virgins Hotels Las Vegas will house the first Native American tribe-operated casino in the Las Vegas Strip corridor. Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment received unanimous approval to run the gambling facility from both the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission in October. 

the first Native American tribe-operated casino in the Las Vegas Strip corridor

The gaming floor will have 650 slot machines, about 50 table games, and a sportsbook operated by of Betfred Sports USA. It will also have a high-stakes private gaming salon. 

The new casino building is on the site of the former Hard Rock Hotel. As redevelopment began in February 2020, the initial plan was to open in November. However, construction delays caused by the pandemic and related market conditions led to the current January 15 launch date.

Las Vegas struggles

Casinos in Las Vegas have been struggling in the wake of COVID-19. After closing in March for 78 days following statewide shutdown orders and reopening in June, revenues and visitor numbers to the city plummeted, remaining significantly low ever since.

Casinos have been operating at 50% capacity in an attempt to limit the virus spread. Following a recent spike in coronavirus cases in the region, on November 22 Gov. Sisolak announced a new set of statewide restrictions. These included reducing operating capacity for casinos to 25% for three weeks.

Many properties have decided to close their doors Monday through Thursday every week because of low occupancy rates and reduced demand.

Serious crime rates in Sin City have also been rising, with several shooting incidents taking place across the Las Vegas Strip over the past few months.