Place your bets that the crowds have returned to Las Vegas, but the crowds are spending less. This sobering news smacked Las Vegas casinos in the face after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released data that showed that tourists have zipped their pocketbooks closed. On average, the typical visitor to Sin City spent a meager $1,021 in 2012. That compares to a pre-recession amount of $1,318 spent in 2007.
Las Vegas Sets Crowd Record
The data shows that nearly 40 million people trekked to Las Vegas last year. This was a record. Many analysts, though, are warning that the dollars spent is a new indicator that Las Vegas is entering a less prosperous period. The total gambling revenue in 2012 was $15.3 billion, according to the authority. That’s $500 million less than in 2007.
Where have all the high rollers gone? It’s likely that the high rollers don’t have the money to spend. Despite the questionable news that the recession has ended, the number of dollars that the average American takes home has fallen. Part-time jobs have replaced full-time jobs. In addition, tens of millions of Americans are either unemployed or under-employed. That cuts into Las Vegas gambling profits.
Some Las Vegas watchers are blaming the decreased profits on young people who have less interest in gambling. These people are more likely to pay for chunky entrance fees to trendy nightclubs than pull a slot machine handle, said David Schwartz who heads the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada. In a word, gambling is no longer king, said Schwartz. Today’s Las Vegas crowds are more interested in concerts, musical shows and classy restaurants.
Casino Revenue Falls
Other figures seem to back up Schwartz. Data shows that the casinos accounted for 59 percent of all cash coming into the Vegas Strip in 1984. That number crashed to 36 percent in 2012.
“I think what’s going on here is we’re seeing a shift away from Las Vegas as the only gaming destination in the United States to being one of many gaming destinations,” said Stephen Brown in a New York Times interview. “But it is holding up as a tourist destination,” Brown added. Brown directs the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada.
Others are worried that Las Vegas in the midst of a club bubble that will burst soon. “Clubbing is always going to be around,” said Las Vegas county Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani in a New York Times interview. “But at some point, it’s like how we overbuilt hotel rooms. They’re going to look at the market and start to scale back.”