Las Vegas, Nevada ranked for years as the number one gambling and entertainment destination in the world since the days of the Rat Pack, the mob and dress codes. There are those that argue that Sin City was more fun back then and provided a great entertainment value, but the days of good cheap food and rooms are long gone and so is Las Vegas’ ranking as number one.
The casino industry has been booming all over the world, so the days of spending several hours travelling to arrive at a casino destination are long over. When casinos opened in Macau in 2006, Las Vegas fell to the number two spot on the world rankings list. The reasons for the fall of Vegas can be counted in dollars; last year, Macau casinos reportedly raked in $23.5 billion in revenues compared with Las Vegas’ mere $5.8 billion. While Las Vegas struggles to keep the lights on, Macau expects growth of 25 to 50 percent this year.
This year the new kid on the worldwide casino block is the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore which saw the opening of their first two casinos last year. While Singapore casino revenues in their inaugural year were $5.1 billion, their projected total for this year is expected to be $6.4 billion. This will surpass last years’ Vegas revenues by over a billion dollars and is expected to knock Las Vegas down even further, to the number three spot.
As more casinos make their appearance on the world gambling stage, iconic stalwart Las Vegas could see their worldwide rankings slide even deeper. Already suffering from hard economic times and a recession, Las Vegas has seen historical sites like the Sahara close and construction of new mega properties put on hold indefinitely.
Nevada depends largely on gambling for revenues and Las Vegas has been hit hard with a drop in visitors. In 2009, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported an 11.9 percent drop in tourism. That led to an unemployment rate that today stands at 12.1 percent (the total in Nevada is now at 12.5%) which in turn has continued to fuel foreclosures. As of May 2011, Las Vegas led the nation with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one in every nine households receiving a foreclosure-related notice in 2010 which was nearly five times the national average.
In 2010, the average Las Vegas tourist stayed 3-4 nights and spent $80 per night for their room and $256 on food and drinks. An average of 80 percent of visitors gambled, spending an average of 2.9 hours at the tables or slots and spending $466 which is down seven percent from 2009.
With an average tab of $1,600 for a couple to have a three night mini-vacation, it is no wonder that tourism reports indicate that travelers to Las Vegas have found more to do than just gamble in recent years. The casinos watch as potential gambling money walks out the door to be spent on other forms of entertainment like day trips to Hoover Dam. That is cash that is not going in the slot machines or across the tables, further bringing down casino revenues.
While poker has gone global and live events are hosted in every corner of the world, the one gambling sector that has improved in Las Vegas is live poker. Thanks to the Department of Justice seizing and shuttering online poker rooms in April, displaced online poker players are finding their seat open in Las Vegas. With dozens of poker rooms to choose from and a slew of tournaments running daily, Las Vegas remains the undisputed poker capitol of the world.
Poker players making their first trek to Las Vegas may be overwhelmed with their choices, which encompass more than 50 poker rooms spread over an area of about 30 miles. Though most poker rooms are housed in casinos on the strip, there are several nice off-strip poker rooms that feature perks such as FreeRoll tournaments and bad-beat jackpots. Food, lodging and other expenses may meet the tourism average, but at least poker players know they don’t have to beat the house to come out ahead. If the record breaking attendance at this year’s World Series of Poker is any indication, poker games in Las Vegas just may be better than ever before, giving poker playing vacationers another reason to choose Sin City for their next get-away.