Hard Rock Casinos Chairman Jim Allen is eagerly anticipating a reopening of his Florida properties, but he warned in a recent CNBC interview that the company will suffer financially for quite some time.
Allen, who also serves as CEO for Seminole Gaming, which owns the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, isn’t sold on customers flocking to casinos as soon as Gov. Ron DeSantis gives them permission to return.
“While we see a ramp up, when we see the beaches in Jacksonville as crowded as they were, that seems like that’s kind of exciting,” he told CNBC. “But I think that’s just the initial get out of the house, if you will.”
DeSantis announced on Wednesday that he will grant certain Florida businesses permission to reopen starting Monday, May 4. But there will be limitations, and casinos aren’t included in the current reopening phase. The governor said during an afternoon press conference that restaurants and retail stores can open, but only at 25% capacity.
Florida has seen more than 33,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, according to the Worldometer database. The governor has yet to announce when casinos will be permitted to reopen, but when they do, Allen suggests that business won’t exactly be booming.
Financial Struggles Could Last at Least a Year
With the recent sale of its Las Vegas property, Hard Rock Casinos now owns 13 gambling establishments in the US. According to Forbes, the Hard Rock International company, which also owns nearly 200 restaurants and 25 hotels, rakes in nearly $1.5 billion in operating profits annually. But Allen is concerned with his company’s immediate future due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think there’s going to be a real challenge, especially here in the United States, as far as ramping the business back up, and frankly, we’re planning on that taking at least a year,” he said in the interview with CNBC.
The casino exec cited his company’s Chinese properties to explain why he’s pessimistic. The Shenzhen Hotel reopened last month and is currently only operating at about a 12% occupancy. Allen anticipates similar early struggles upon reopening in the US.
The Hard Rock Casinos boss expects his properties to implement health safety procedures similar to those that some casinos in Las Vegas have already announced. Allen proposes using thermal imaging and temperature checks to prevent those with high body temperature from entering the Hard Rock casinos and hotels.
“That may come at an additional cost, and I think that’s just, unfortunately, part of this pandemic that we have to navigate through,” he said.
Hard Rock’s Florida properties have been closed since March 20.