Sands, Wynn extend plan to pay furloughed casino staff


las-vegas-sands-casino-staff-coronavirus-payCasino operators Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts are promising to do right by their employees even as the COVID-19 pandemic leaves their US casinos locked up tight and their Macau casinos struggling.

Nevada casinos learned Wednesday that their state-ordered shutdown would extend through the entire month of April, dashing hopes of any imminent return to normalcy in this new coronavirus climate. Gambling regulators in other US states that haven’t already extended their own shutdowns are likely to mimic Nevada’s moves in the days and weeks to come.

Wednesday also saw Wynn Resorts announce that it was extending its ‘payroll continuance’ for over 15k furloughed staff in Nevada and Massachusetts by an additional 30 days through May 15. The company took this step “as part of its shared responsibility for the health and safety of its employees, their families and the Las Vegas and Greater Boston communities.”

Wynn senior management, including CEO Matt Maddox, previously announced that they would forego all or some of their usual salaries for the remainder of 2020 in exchange for company shares.

Also on Wednesday, Sands boss Sheldon Adelson penned an op-ed for the New York Post in which he said he was “paying every one of our nearly 10,000 employees as though they were still working.” Adelson added that he hopes to continue this gesture “right up until the time that we can reopen our business.”

Adelson (pictured) said the move was “not only the right thing to do – it’s good business,” telling his fellow employers, “especially larger ones,” that their priority now is to “maximize the number of employees and their families that we can help – and help them for as long as possible.” Adelson offered to “participate in an ongoing discussion” with his fellow execs “on ways we can work together to protect this nation’s workforce.”

Adelson offered his now familiar rags-to-riches history and his working-class father teaching him that “there is always someone whose need is greater than ours.” Adelson urged his fellow captains of industry to “prove the greatness, compassion and resiliency of this country, once again.”

Adelson is one of the world’s richest men, even if his fortune has dipped a little alongside Sands’ share price during the current crisis. And company filings indicate that he just cashed a $12.5m bonus check, part of the $24.7m in total executive compensation Adelson received from his company in 2019.

Lest we seem to be nitpicking, we also note that Sands announced this week that it would donate 2m medical masks and 20k protective suits to assist health-care professionals, first responders and non-profit organizations in their COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Nevada and New York will each get 1m masks, while the other gear is reserved for Nevada. Adelson said “our properties in Las Vegas may be empty right now, but our hearts are full of hope for the future.”

US casino stocks enjoyed a comparatively mild buffering on Thursday following the double-digit declines most of them endured on Wednesday following Nevada’s closure extension. Penn National Gaming suffered the most, closing down 9.2%, while Eldorado Resorts was off 8.7% and Boyd Gaming slipped 7.1%.