Company executives are rewarded with their positions because they’re able to direct the operations and build new, or improve existing, revenue streams. While most of the time this is done by sticking to what they know, there are exceptions to the rule. If necessity is the mother of invention, COVID-19 has been proven to be the catalyst for all types of inventions and innovation, and casino operator Wynn Resorts is trying to make the most of a bad situation. After the coronavirus pandemic brought the casino industry to its knees and cost casino operators billions of dollars in revenue, Wynn CEO Matt Maddox has come up with a novel approach to generating new revenue. Wynn is no longer just big into casino – it’s now big into COVID-19 testing.
Casinos in Las Vegas are back up and running, but are still operating in less-than-ideal circumstances, with forced reductions in the number of guests they can receive in place. This gives large venues a lot of dead real estate that can potentially be used for other purposes, which may have led to Maddox’s “A-ha!” moment. He is turning part of the Wynn Resorts property on the Las Vegas Strip into a COVID-19 testing facility.
Maddox explained his approach in a piece he authored for The Nevada Independent. He asserts that the new testing facility, which is being launched in collaboration with the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, will be able to test thousands of possible COVID-19 patients each day, with the results delivered the same day as the tests and at costs much lower than what is being charged elsewhere.
He adds, “It’s important to note that our UMC/Wynn lab will offer the most sensitive and accurate test available in the United States utilizing FDA approved ‘gold standard’ PCR technology, and we are talking to UNLV to track and analyze the results. Our lab should be finished before Thanksgiving. Extensive research clearly indicates that what is keeping people away from Las Vegas is not so much the physical environment, which we work diligently to keep sterilized, but rather a fear of other people. We must alleviate that fear.”
According to data shared by The Nevada Independent, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state continue to rise. There are now 80,509 active cases, 426 of which have been identified in the past 24 hours. Fortunately, the number of recoveries is up, as well, with a total of 73,416 patients having been successfully treated for the virus.
The Nevada casino scene is in a world of hurt. In August, only 1.5 million people dropped in on Las Vegas, 57% fewer than a year earlier. Gross gaming revenue is down, as well, with The Strip properties reporting a combined $317.3 million in August for a 25.1% year-on-year reduction. As restrictions are still in place, and violence is on the rise, the path for a quick recovery for Vegas is washed away.
Maddox concludes, “I do hope a vaccine will be available and widely adopted soon, but we can’t wait. We want Nevadans back to work and our kids back to school. We owe these efforts to our visitors and to the citizens of Las Vegas whose lives and futures depend on Las Vegas attracting millions of tourists and getting back to the business of fun.
“I see recovery on the other side of this turbulent river, but patiently waiting for the waters to subside is not the most effective approach. Rapid tests and safe zones are the stepping stones we can use to continue to cross this river.