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Is Vegas Still for Gamblers?

July 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM | by | ()

For most of itís lifetime, Las Vegas has been a gambling town. The city was built on money generated from casino tables. From the time gambling was legalized in Las Vegas in 1931 until 1976, Las Vegas was the only place in the United States where you could legally gamble.

This monopoly on gaming combined with cheap rooms and food helped Las Vegas grow incredible amounts throughout the 50s, 60s and early 70s. When Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1976, Las Vegas lost itís monopoly and started losing visitors. This wouldnít change until Steve Wynn built The Mirage in 1989 and reinvigorated Las Vegas as an entertainment destination. But, is Las Vegas still a good place for gamblers to vacation?

For starters, the rule in Las Vegas was that everything was cheap so that you would spend your money at the tables. Cheap food, rooms, and shows were all part of the package to entice people to come stay and play the games. This has changed as hotel rooms now make money for casinos, resorts have world-class cuisine with prices to match, and show tickets often cost in excess of $100.

In the last decade or so, Vegas expansion has been primarily focused on nightclubs. Every casino has at least one and in the past couple of years day clubs with pools have started popping up. These crowds donít spend their days and nights at the tables. It also seems that these types of crowds donít know typical gambling strategy and odds. Weíve seen Las Vegas Strip casinos be able to lower the odds on Blackjack by paying 6:5, drop Video Poker payouts, and add high house-edge side bets that people will gladly pay. Thatís because a lot of visitors are now coming to the strip to party, and only a small part of that is gambling. In fact, casino revenue only accounts for 38.7% total revenue at the average Las Vegas property.

But with the expansion of gaming abroad in Macau and Singapore combined with gaming being available all across the US, the gambler doesnít have to go to Las Vegas to play. Only Hawaii and Utah donít have some form of gambling (including lotteries) and 39 states currently have some sort of casino or racetrack. Gambling is accessible almost anywhere. So itís easy to see why Las Vegas has to differentiate with other offerings.

But, for the gambler who wants to go to Las Vegas, is Las Vegas still for the gambler? The Cosmopolitan is almost a reflection of this. It is doing well on its hotel rooms and food and beverage, but the casino is not doing very well at all. So with casinos focusing on nightclubs, restaurants and shows, while making gambling odds worse and worse, one has to wonder if the gambler is better off playing somewhere else.

[Photo: dcwelshart.com]

Archived Comments:

My Vegas

I've lived in Vegas for some 33 years now, and I've put maybe a hundred bucks total on the line (always in a slot, tables still scare me) over all that time.

Gambling just has never held any allure for me, perhaps, because I was raised here. I'm definitely among the people who do "other" on The Strip. When I'm there my bankroll goes to rooms, dining and/or spas.

None of my out-of-state friends come here to gamble, either.

I still do....

I lived in Vegas for about 2 years and now I live in Texas. My mom lives there now, so I travel out there so she can see her grandson. She watches our son and my wife and I can do what we want for a few days. My wife plays all the penny slots and I will dabble in poker, play blackjack if I can find a 10-15 table, and I also look for the new slot machines. When I visit again in December or so I will run straight to the Hangover machine. However, this time I will be there for my Bday so we will probably go to a show and a nice dinner. I hope Ramsey's place is open by then, and maybe the next afternoon have a snack at Lobster ME that is about to open. So YES I still gamble there and since I dont go as much as I used to, it is still fun to me.

It is for me

I'll gamble anywhere. The good thing about people not gambling at the Cosmo is that they're there and give something to look at if I get bored with the game.

Also, the drink selection and bartenders make the Cosmo a great place for someone like me to meet people. I'll usually drop a bill in for the fun since I'm almost always early.

I gamble for fun and the difference between good and bad gambling paytables is not really that big of a deal on $20. Of course, I'd rather play with good tables but I'm not gonna cry if the pretty girl doesn't put out often. So to speak.