These Are The Major Casino Projects That Were Halted Because Of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis compelled several casino-related projects across the U.S. to halt construction. Some of these projects are back on track for now, while others still sit dormant as the pandemic enters its fifth month.

The following list looks at a few big-money casino ventures forced to put construction on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Drew Las Vegas

Already one of the most embattled resort projects in Las Vegas history, The Drew Las Vegas hotel and casino stopped construction in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shutdown pushed back the projected late-2020 opening date for The Drew.

The $3.1 billion project on the northern part of the Las Vegas Strip could still open by late 2022. The possibility exists, however, that The Drew never opens for business.

The halting of construction in March happened as just one of numerous setbacks for the project.

The Drew stands as the tallest building on the Strip, originally intended to be called the Fontainbleu Las Vegas. Construction on the Fontainbleu lasted from 2007 until 2009, when the project’s parent company declared bankruptcy.

A group of investment firms, including the Wikoff Group, bought the dormant project in August 2017. In February 2018, Witkoff Group founder Steve Witkoff announced a partnership with Marriott Hotels, intended to relaunch the project as The Drew.

Plans for The Drew included 3,780 hotel rooms, casino gaming, and more than 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Construction on the 67-story project shut down in March, however, amid the COVID-19 crisis. Witkoff now faces a lawsuit from a group of workers claiming unpaid wages in relation to work on the project, and overall The Drew faces an uncertain future.

MSG Sphere Las Vegas

The COVID-19 crisis halted construction on the $1.6 billion MSG Sphere at the Venetian in March. A joint venture between The Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MSG Sphere began construction in late-2018.

When completed, MSG Sphere will function as a cutting-edge, 17,500-seat arena, catering to concerts, awards shows, and other entertainment events. The architecture of the building, along with its audio and visual capabilities, will make MSG Sphere a one-of-a-kind entertainment venue when it opens.

Features of MSG Sphere will include high-resolution display screens inside and out. The outdoor displays will have the ability to display what’s going on inside the building to outside spectators, as well as the capacity to make the building appear invisible.

MSG Sphere will stand as the world’s largest spherical building when finished. The arena isn’t slated to host casino gaming, but it’s location in the shadow of the Venetian, just off the Strip, should create plenty of traffic going to Las Vegas casinos. A date for resuming construction hasn’t been announced as of yet.

Bronco Billy’s Casino Hotel Expansion (Cripple Creek, Colorado)

The largest expansion project in the history of Cripple Creek, Colo. gambling industry came to a stop in March. COVID-19 concerns halted construction on a $100 million hotel and parking garage upgrade at Bronco Billy’s Casino Hotel.

The Cripple Creek City Council voted unanimously in April 2018 to approve the construction of a nearly 200-room, four-star hotel at the Bronco Billy’s property. The proposed expansion also includes a massive parking garage and other amenities.

Council members approved the project with an eye on turning Cripple Creek into a major resort and gaming destination for Colorado tourists. Those goals make the Bronco Billy’s expansion one of the most important projects in the history of Cripple Creek, one of three mountain towns offering legal gambling in Colorado.

Full House Resorts, parent company of Bronco Billy’s, hasn’t yet announced a date for resuming construction on the 300,000-square-foot project.

Hollywood Casino Morgantown, Hollywood Casino York (Pennsylvania)

Penn National Gaming was forced to close all 34 of its US casino properties in March due to the pandemic crisis. The COVID-19 situation also halted construction on a pair of upcoming Penn National properties in Pennsylvania.

Both upcoming properties fall under the classification of “mini-casinos” under Pennsylvania law, but both are $100 million-plus projects.

The paused projects include Hollywood Casino Morgantown, a $111-million property under construction in Caernarvon Township, Berks County.

Construction was also halted on the $120 million Hollywood Casino York, in progress at the York Galleria Mall in Springettsbury Township.

Both properties were slated to open in late 2020, but Penn National Gaming has yet to announce a revised potential opening date for either casino. As designated Category 4 mini-casinos, the pair of Penn National properties are permitted by Pennsylvania law to offer up to 750 slots and 40 table games.

Roadwork related to the Hollywood Casino York property resumed in July, but indoor construction is still on pause for now.

Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia

Construction on the $700 million Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia hit multiple roadblocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 2020, however, progress has resumed on what will become Pennsylvania’s 13th full-service casino.

At least two workers on the project tested positive for COVID-19 at one point, and the pandemic prompted a major sheet-metal workers union to pull all of its members out of the construction site.

Gilbane Construction, the contractor for the Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia construction, has battled with state lawmakers over keeping the construction of the resort going during the pandemic crisis.

The resort is slated to open for business sometime in 2020. The property will include a 240-room hotel, 2,000 slots, and 125 table games.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.