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    New Vegas Visitor Survey Reveals Some Surprising Insights On Gambling

    As it turns out, gambling isn’t the primary reason people visit Las Vegas. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to them.

    The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority commissions a survey of visitors every year to better understand the people who visit Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Visitors Profile for 2018 was recently released and there’s a lot of new information on tourists.

    Every month, 300 visitors to Las Vegas were interviewed for this 80-page report. The sample size of 3,600 people is only a fraction of the 42 million visitors in Las Vegas in 2018.

    The report is meant as an estimate about people visiting for both work and pleasure. The profile is more of a guide than a definitive report.

    Not everyone visits Las Vegas to gamble

    Much like every city, Las Vegas isn’t the same place it used to be. Gambling used to be the main reason for tourists to visit Las Vegas. That’s no longer the case. In 2018, 45% of visitors said the main reason to visit Las Vegas was for vacation or pleasure.

    A small but dedicated number of people–7%–visit Las Vegas specifically to gamble. The number is actually a slight increase from previous years, however there are casinos in most states, so the small but steady number is not much of a surprise.

    Gambling is still a major part of the experience in Las Vegas. It seems like while gambling may not be the primary reason for a Vegas vacation, tourists like having the option should they choose to partake.

    In 2018, 74% of all visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas. That’s the same as 2017 but a sizable increase from 1026 when 69% of visitors gambled.

    The average visitor is not a high roller

    Nearly three-quarters of visitors to Las Vegas gamble. However, they have a small budget and don’t spend too much time gambling. The average gambling budget per trip in 2018 was $527.05.

    The average length of a visit to Las Vegas in 2018 was 4.4 days and 3.4 nights. That works out to an average of slightly more than $130 to gamble each day.

    The average gambling budget in Las Vegas last year is mostly lower than serious gamblers would imagine. Last year, 27% of visitors who gamblers had a budget below $100. A total of 46% of visitors had a gambling budget under $200.

    On the other end of the gambling budgets, 22% of visitors had spent $600 or more during their Vegas vacation.

    Tourists gamble less than you think

    The average visitor who decided to gamble in Las Vegas last year did so for a total of just over two hours per trip. The average time spent gambling in 2018 was 2.2 hours. The vast majority of visitors, 67%, spent two hours or less gambling during their four day Vegas vacation.

    Even though only 3% of visitors to Las Vegas gambled for more than eight hours last year, the average overall time spent gambling in Las Vegas increased from the previous two years. Visitors only gambled for an average of 1.6 hours in 2017 and 1.9 hours in 2016.

    Visitors to Las Vegas may not all be high rollers gambling all day, but casinos are still crowded. Casino operators have a knack for making sure there’s always a buzz in the casino.

    Casino design plays a roll in generating excitement on the floor. Opening and closing tables to ensure there’s always an appearance that the casino is busy plays an important roll in creating excitement on the casino floor. This enticing trick could be the very thing that lures a visitor to make a pit stop at the tables in between other activities.

    More people are gambling in downtown Las Vegas

    More than half of visitors (73%) stay on the Vegas Strip. It’s no surprise that 89% of gamblers did so on the Vegas Strip the last time this was measured in 2017. While most tourists don’t seem to mind the gambling rules on the Vegas Strip, plenty of visitors are starting to look elsewhere to gamble.

    Many gamblers have been making the trip to downtown Las Vegas to gamble. In 2017, 40% of all gamblers visited downtown Las Vegas to gamble. That’s a significant increase from 31% in 2015.

    Player friendly gambling rules in downtown Las Vegas are attractive to all gamblers. The lower limits are attractive to new gamblers and budget-conscious ones that might only have a total of around $130 to spend gambling per day.

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    Vegas is changing, but gamblers remain the same

    Las Vegas is constantly changing. The shift away from gambling in Las Vegas started in the early 1990s. Non-gaming revenue surpassed gambling for the first time in 1999.

    The trend, which has been incrementally small, has continued to the point where gambling only accounts for 75% of revenue for MGM Resorts in Las Vegas.

    There are a lot of different preferences for visitors in Las Vegas according to the Las Vegas Visitor Profile. However, not much has changed for gamblers over the past five years. Similar numbers of people are gambling with budgets that haven’t changed much.

    Looking forward, it will be interesting to see if gamblers continue to move elsewhere to play their favorite casino games. The trend to find value in Las Vegas is taking many guests away from the Vegas Strip.

    The location of where tourists gamble is surveyed every other year. This will be recorded for the next profile and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more visitors gambling away from the Vegas Strip.

    Marc Meltzer

    About

    Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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