Empty Vegas hotels lead to job, show cuts

Alladin Resort hit hardest with 500 layoffs

LAS VEGAS — Hotel occupancy rates have dropped more than 50% and ticket sales for Las Vegas’ signature production shows have decreased commensurately in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which have left many people fearful of traveling and the casinos forced to cut staff.

As travelers also wait to see when and how the U.S. retaliates and whether terrorists mount additional attacks, stocks for the top four gaming companies — MGM Mirage, Mandalay Resort Group, Harrah’s Entertainment and Park Place Entertainment — all hit lows for the year this week.

And while analysts say the immediate dropoff in business shouldn’t drive Las Vegas properties into the ground, massive layoffs were announced Wednesday at New York-New York, Paris, Bally’s and Mandalay Bay. Park Place Entertainment laid off several hundred of the 7,000 workers at its Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas complexes.

The Aladdin Resort was hit the hardest, as 500 employees were let go, but that property has endured financial problems since its opening a little more than a year ago.

Harrah’s and the Venetian hotel-casino said layoffs at their properties were not anticipated.

More than 50,000 conventioneers have canceled or postponed events this week alone, a $61.3 million hit in non-gaming revenue, according to figures released Wednesday by the Las Vegas Visitors & Convention Authority.

More than 240 conventions planned for September, October and November have canceled. Last year the city drew 11% of its estimated 36 million visitors from conventions.

The first show to close will be “Bill Acosta’s Lasting Impressions” at the Strip-side Flamingo, which shutters Sunday.

Other shows are cutting back on the number of shows per week.

Presentations of the MGM Grand’s “EFX” have been reduced from eight shows a week to five, and the Luxor’s “Blue Man Group” perf has scaled back to nine shows from its regular 14.

A Bally’s spokesman said its “Jubilee” show will offer 10 perfs a week, down by two, when it resumes Sept. 29 after a vacation.

Cirque du Soleil unfrayed

Schedules for two of the town’s most popular productions — the Cirque du Soleil troupe’s “O” at the Bellagio and “Mystere” at Treasure Island — remain unchanged. No decision has yet been made regarding a schedule change for magicians Siegfried & Roy, whoare on vacation until the end of this month.

The hotel-casinos also are enacting additional cutbacks. Some are cutting back on employees’ hours and encouraging them to take leave without pay.

According to MGM Mirage spokesman Shelley Mansholt, other cost-cutting measures include decreasing pool hours and eliminating lunch service at some hotel restaurants.

Caesars Palace has halted construction on its multimillion-dollar hotel tower, but work continues on its $75 million Coliseum-theater complex, earmarked as the new home of Celine Dion.

Mansholt said that to entice travelers to Vegas, the MGM Mirage is deeply discounting room rates. Other hotels are expected to offer similar incentives.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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