It's Tax Day: Money Matters in Las Vegas

Happy April 15th! I hope you are not preparing to write a check to the IRS today, but if you are, I hope it is because you won a lot of money in Las Vegas.

When you think of Las Vegas, you probably picture the bright lights, the fancy clubs, the posh restaurants, the cool pools and the imaginative shows. You may even think of the casinos, but statistics show that not as many of you are thinking primarily about that, even though there are record numbers of folks visiting.

There are several reasons for this phenomenon, including but not limited to:
  • You can gamble anywhere. When Las Vegas and Atlantic City were the only places to place a bet, it was a different story. Now, you can find a casino on almost as many corners as you can find a Starbucks.
  • High rollers are not the target market anymore. Gary Loveman did a statistical study some years ago that proved that slot players, not whales, make up the majority of casino profits. Loveman also began toying with the idea of more entertainment opportunities in Las Vegas when he became CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CEC), the conglomerate that owns Caesars Palace and a bunch of other casinos in Las Vegas and other places. Hence the High Roller observation wheel and related shopping/dining area.
  • Las Vegas does not promote gaming nearly as much as it used to, and what used to be the "extras" to lead folks into the casinos (shows, clubs, pools, etc.) are now becoming more of the primary reason to visit. 
  • Younger folks make up a bigger percentage of the Vegas pie, and they want to party and hang out first, then maybe spend a few minutes in the casino until their dinner reservation is ready.
Throw all this and more together and what do you get? Lower gaming revenues and fewer people spending money in the casino. So is gambling dead? Nah. It's just sitting in the corner, waiting for the right casino execs to figure out how to make the most of it. Here are some thoughts:
  • With better promotion, gaming could skyrocket in Las Vegas. The troubles in Macau mean that more high-rollers could come to Vegas, which means more revenue. But for the rest of us, who don't spend $10k per hand on baccarat, casino execs could dole out better coupons, better stay/play packages, and a better overall gaming experience. Which leads me to…
  • Better games/rules. Right now, the rules stink in most casinos, and we notice. We are much more savvy consumers, and we can tell the difference between full pay VP and lousy VP, between 3-2 Blackjack and 6-5 punch-me-in-the-gut Blackjack. Make the rules better, and you will draw in more customers, and you will make more money because the house still wins.
  • Better service. I love playing games where the dealers are fun and I don't have to switch tables. I love when drink service is faster than my Corvette and even more attractive. I love when my chair is not crammed next to someone else's and I have room to get up from my seat when nature calls (because the drink service has been so good). These are not difficult things to accomplish, but they are becoming rare. They make a world of difference to players. Easy win for the casino if they have the smarts to do it right.
People want to gamble. If you look at the national statistics on gaming revenue, it continues to increase year-over-year. The idea that "younger visitors from California don't gamble" is only true if Las Vegas makes it true. So, I'm hoping that Las Vegas finds inventive ways to draw more of us punters into the fold.