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Las Vegas riding high into 2019

Thu, Jan 3, 12:56pm by Staff Writer

Casino operators on the famous Las Vegas Strip have endured a tumultuous 2018 year, but ended on a high.

After a bumper first half of 2018, there was a dip in revenues during the American summer.

Total Las Vegas Strip casino win was down in January, up from February to June, then down in July, August and September.

Operators reported declines in revenue per available room which is the most commonly used metric to assess casino profitability.

This measure was down four per cent in the second quarter of 2018 and through June, both overall visitation to Las Vegas and room occupancy were down one per cent.

Convention attendance was down by three per cent, which was concerning to Strip operators since convention guests spend significantly more on rooms and dining.

Casino stocks fell by as much as 24 per cent on Wall Street, with fears that Las Vegas has finally pushed its luck too far.

For many Americans there are places to gamble much closer than Las Vegas, which is why the city’s resorts have reinvented themselves as places to eat, drink, shop and occasionally gamble.

There was a turnaround for operators in October with a 12 per cent increase in gaming win noted. This has been attributed to a return to the usual seasonal pattern.

Statewide total revenue passed US$1 billion for the first time since 2007, while the total amount bet was higher than it has been in a decade.

High-end customers, food & drink swaying customers

The city’s major casinos had weathered the recession by catering to high-end Chinese players, but the flow of international visitors from the People’s Republic halted after a government crackdown on corruption.

This is when domestic visitors were courted by drinking, dining and entertainment options.

A range of fees and charges followed, with those services not coming cheaply.

Leaders at major casino operators insisted that they weren’t gouging their customers and the then-current decreases were a rough patch and not the start of a downward trend.

Gamblers in Nevada proved them correct, with the state posting its best November since 2007.

Casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard combined to post a double-digit increase over November 2017 driven by a 53 per cent increase in baccarat revenue, according to Forbes.

The proliferation of sports betting to other states in the United States may not have much of a negative impact on Las Vegas as many predict.

The experience with poker, when the game became an online phenomenon in the early 2000s led to a boom for brick and mortar poker rooms.

In November, Nevada sportsbooks broke records for the total amount wagered and over the last quarter betting revenue is up 32 per cent.

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