The Las Vegas economy has been hit especially hard by fallout stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is hoping a new bill will offer some relief for casinos and related businesses.
Masto, a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer recently introduced new bipartisan legislation called the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2020. The bill would provide relief and recovery measures for the following industries:
- Trade shows
Employees in each industry will also feel an impact as visitors return. According to research from Pew, leisure and hospitality workers account for 25% of people working in Nevada. More jobs will become available, which would funnel more money into the local economy.
This bill would have a huge effect on the Las Vegas economy, which hasn’t seen a major convention since the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Leisure travel has slowly returned on weekends. But during weekdays — when conventions usually fill hotel rooms, restaurants and bars — casinos and associated businesses are still relatively quiet.
Proposed bill needed to stimulate Nevada economy
Masto said the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act would stimulate the economy in Las Vegas and around the country. The bill would create new recovery incentives for hospitality and trade shows. It would also boost employee retention tax credit.
All told, this bill would help maintain worker connections to their employer. It would also give recovery incentives for families to travel when it is deemed safe to do so.
Hospitality, travel and tourism, Masto said, need the assistance.
“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated economies and industries across the country, and Nevada’s hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors have been especially hard hit. These industries are the economic engine of our state and our communities, and the incredible challenges they are now facing due to COVID-19 demand our attention — and action — in Congress.”
The bill is intended to help both employers and employees during the slow road to recovery.
A look inside the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act
The bill would support the convention and trade show industries in a few ways. Businesses would receive a tax credit for the cost of attending or hosting a convention, business meeting or trade show in Nevada between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2023.
This is a huge incentive for businesses of all sizes to return to Las Vegas again. The impact of the bill could reach major corporations as well as smaller regional businesses just looking to have socially distant gatherings.
The effect would be significant for MGM Resorts, Wynn Las Vegas, The Venetian and other Vegas casino operators. Each of the aforementioned has released new health and safety plans for meetings and conventions. Employees at all these companies and adjacent restaurants and bars would also feel repercussions of the tax credit from businesses that decide to return to Las Vegas.
Another credit will directly reach restaurants in Nevada. The bill would support the restaurant industry by establishing a tax credit for restaurants or food service businesses. The credit would cover any costs related to reopening or increasing service at an establishment forced to close down or reduce operations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes renovations, testing or labor costs needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This credit would remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2022.
Plenty of support for the bill
The Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act has support from local and national representatives in the travel, dining and gaming sectors.
From Tori Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the US Travel Association:
“By targeting tax incentives on the areas that need the most help — including in the meetings and events and entertainment sectors — the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act will provide a significant boost to travel jobs, helping to ensure the millions of Americans that rely on travel for income can get the financial stability they need.”
From Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association:
“We applaud Senators Cortez Masto and Cramer for taking action to prevent permanent job losses and further damage to our battered industry and workforce by focusing on common-sense solutions.
While Nevada’s resort industry continues to do all it can to recover as quickly as possible and bring Nevadans safely back to work, the road back to economic normalcy is expected to take years. The bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act will help expedite recovery and provide immediate relief to struggling Nevada families and businesses that depend on the meetings and conventions and the travel and tourism industries.”
And finally, from Bill Miller, president and CEO at the American Gaming Association:
“The bipartisan Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act will enable the gaming industry to retain employees and jumpstart nongaming elements of our business, like meetings and conventions, which account for the majority of our revenue in markets like the Las Vegas strip.”
A long road to recovery
Nevada casinos were ordered to close in the middle of March to help slow the spread of COVID-19. They were allowed to reopen June 4. The road to recovery continues to be slow, as visitors are still leery of traveling and being inside large public spaces.
Recovering from the impact of COVID-19 in Las Vegas won’t be quick. Business at regional casinos around the country should improve relatively quickly. These properties depend mostly on leisure travelers within driving distance to their properties. Those visitors have already started returning to casinos.
Las Vegas casinos, though, are a different monster. These businesses depend on those regional customers as well as tourists and businesses from the US and around the world. Business and international travel along with leisure travelers flying to Las Vegas will take a longer time to return to Las Vegas.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority 2019 visitor profile, 49% of visitors to Las Vegas arrived by airplane. The number of visitors to fly into Las Vegas has increased every year since 2015. Of course, this has dropped drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
It will probably take some time before Americans and international visitors fly into Las Vegas as frequently as they once did. This week, a Fitch Ratings Service analyst said a full recovery for Las Vegas may not happen until 2024.
The Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act could help Las Vegas recover a little more quickly.