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Some gaming and tourism industry predictions for 2019

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December 31, 2018 By Richard N. Velotta

It’s that time of year again.

Time to compare 2018 prognostications against reality and to go out on the 2019 limb.

Several years ago, I joined some of my colleagues at guessing what would and wouldn’t happen in the coming year. Using a crystal ball isn’t for the fainthearted, but truth be told, there are always a few softball predictions to put in play to bolster my confidence.

As the calendar to 2018 turned, I suggested the plans for the Raiders would continue at warp speed, but that there would be no parking solution reached. No doubt about it, one look at the construction site assures things are progressing on time (and on budget, according to the team). Was a parking solution reached? The team might offer the multi-satellite-lot plan as an answer. Team followers might not be so generous in calling the plan a solution. The Raiders admit it’s an ever-evolving solution.

I predicted a new Strip resort or variation of an existing property on the horizon. Certainly The Drew Las Vegas qualifies. But I didn’t foresee the closure of the Lucky Dragon (off-Strip) and the delay of Wynn Resorts’ planned resort across Las Vegas Boulevard.

I rightly saw MGM Resorts International’s fortunes soaring with the opening of MGM Cotai and MGM Springfield and the revamping of Park MGM. Also rightly predicted Mandalay Bay would retain its name.

I expected the revamped Palms and Palace Station properties to be hits, and so far they’re on that track — although it’s still early to pass judgment.

I thought gaming in Japan would move more quickly than it has, projecting that MGM, Caesars Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands would be asked to partner on projects in that country. That hasn’t happened. Maybe it will in 2019.

My prediction that nationwide sports betting would win approval was right, but I was wrong about New Jersey not having a sports book open in time for football season. Casinos in New Jersey — as well as Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New Mexico — are taking bets.

Finally, the prediction that there would be little movement on the recreational marijuana front as far as consumption in resorts was right. Gaming regulators are still set against usage in casino properties. That stance is likely to stay in effect as long as the Justice Department considers pot an illegal substance.

So what will we see in 2019? Here are some fresh guesses:

— Wynn Resorts will retain its gaming license in Massachusetts, but not before the company is disciplined in that state and in Nevada. That discipline will come in the form of fines agreed upon in settlement agreements. Expect the amounts to be eight figures (though some of my contacts in Massachusetts say nine).

— Encore Boston Harbor will open in 2019, but not in June, as the company had hoped. Court and hearing delays will push the opening date back.

— Nevada gaming regulators will approve new sexual harassment regulations endorsed by the state Gaming Control Board. They’re similar to federal regulations already in place but will put an exclamation point on how seriously local officials view the issue.

— The Raiders will play their 2019 season in the Bay Area. Efforts to keep the team name and colors in Oakland will fail.

— Work will continue on the major construction projects in the valley due to open in 2020, but at least one project will see labor slowdowns related to a lack of workers or materials.

— New nonstop air service will be announced between Las Vegas and Japan. Before the end of the year, a plan will be established to rename McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid. After a vigorous debate, the name change will be approved.

— The next big-league sports franchise to arrive in Las Vegas: Major League Soccer.

Bring it on, 2019.


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