Vegas Visitors Spend More Time, Money On Gambling In 2021, Says Survey

Written By Marc Meltzer on March 7, 2022
Average 2021 Las Vegas visitor profile

The Las Vegas Convention And Visitors Authority (LVCVA) recently released its almost annual Visitor Profile. The Las Vegas Visitor Profile for 2021 is the first since the 2019 report.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LVCVA didn’t release a full report in 2020.

The tourism board released a partial profile mid-year last year that only covered a few topics.

This full Visitor Profile returns full of trends for tourists last year. Topics include, how much visitors spent on gambling, dining, shopping and shows when visiting Las Vegas. Once again the report dives into how and when visitors booked their Las Vegas vacations.

Unsurprisingly, the 2021 Visitor Profile is a little different from previous years as visitors emerged from their homes more frequently. Even though visitors returned to Las Vegas from around the country, Las Vegas was still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Visitor Profile uses information gathered from a sample of 3,917 tourists in Las Vegas. While the information isn’t 100% accurate, it does help build a picture of the average visitor to Las Vegas. The average doesn’t represent one person, it represents all persons.

Las Vegas Was A Vacation Destination In 2021

Over the past half-decade or so Las Vegas casinos and hotels were focused on business travelers. These visitors spend more on non-gaming amenities than most tourists who try to maximize their budgets when traveling.

Overall, Las Vegas visitors in 2021 were younger. This makes sense as older Americans tended to stay home to avoid COVID-19.

The average age of visitors to Las Vegas last year was 43.2. That’s younger than any of the previous five reports. This age comes thanks to a large decrease in visitors over 65 and a larger increase of those under 40.

There weren’t many business meetings or conventions in Las Vegas last year. The majority of visitors in Las Vegas were actually taking a vacation instead of visiting for work.

Since a visit to Las Vegas was one of the first vacations in a couple of years, visitors were more likely to be traveling as a family with children. Similar to 2020, there was an increase in visitors from the western half of the country.

Visitors spent more money on food and beverages than usual in 2021. The average spend in this category was $462.37 per trip. This was more than a 10% increase from 2019 when visitors spent $410.74, which was previously the most money spent in this category over the past six years.

Since there were fewer shows, visitors also decided to spend their money shopping in Las Vegas. Visitors spent $284.55 per visit last year. This was almost $100 more than during 2019 visits to Las Vegas.

According to the report, 80% of all visitors to Las Vegas in 2021 were making a return visit. This is the highest proportion in a few years.

One big change in visitation last year was the number of people booking a visit at the last minute. Last year 27% of visitors planned a trip 15-30 days in advance.

This was the highest booking timeframe for last year. In fact, a total of 48% of all visitors booked a trip to Las Vegas less than 60 days before a visit.

For comparison, during the last full profile in 2019, 23% of visitors planned a trip to Las Vegas more than 90 days in advance.

More Visitors Went Downtown Than Recent Years

More visitors went to downtown Las Vegas in 2021 than in recent years. According to the report, 59% of all visitors to Las Vegas last year went downtown. That’s a greater percentage than any year since 2017.

In total, 64% of visitors who went downtown visited to go sightseeing or visit the Fremont Street Experience.

Since entertainment on the Vegas Strip was still ramping up last year, visiting downtown Las Vegas was an excuse to find something fun to do. Even though entertainment was limited walking through the outdoor mall of casinos is a good way to enjoy Las Vegas.

The second most popular reason to visit downtown Las Vegas was to gamble. However, this wasn’t an increase. Only 12% of visitors to downtown Las Vegas went specifically to gamble. A greater percentage (14%) visited for the same reason in 2019.

Compared to the Vegas Strip casinos, the player-friendly rules and odds at downtown Las Vegas casinos should make this a more popular destination for gamblers.

Vegas Strip casinos changed rules to increase the house edge at table games. The downtown casino operators mostly keep to traditional table game rules. For example, there are no 000 roulette games and fewer 6:5 blackjack games downtown than on the Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Gambllng Tendencies In 2021

Even though entertainment options in Las Vegas were limited last year fewer people spent time during their vacation gambling than in 2019. According to the report, 76% of visitors to Las Vegas in 2021 gambled. That’s lower than 2019 when 81% of visitors gambled on their trip to Las Vegas.

However, those who gambled did so for a longer period of time than any of the past five years surveyed. Out of all the visitors who gambled while in Las Vegas, 53% gambled on average per day for two hours or less.

The number of people who gambled this infrequently when visiting Las Vegas peaked at 77% in 2017.

The largest spike in time spent gambling was in the three to four hours when 26% of players hit the tables and machines. Another 13% of gamblers played five to six hours.

Gamblers spread their money across more casinos than usual in 2021. Visitors gambled in 3.2 casinos, on average last year. That was an increase from 1.9 casinos in 2018 and two casinos in 2016.

The average gambling budget per trip in 2021 was $717.51. Overall, 39% of all gamblers had a budget of $600 or more. This was up from 2016 to 2019 when there were more ways to enjoy Las Vegas.

Remember, this is an average budget from the very casual gambler to the most serious players.

Another semi-related note is that 61% of visitors surveyed paid retail prices for hotel rooms in 2021. Only 9% received complimentary rooms through a casino or hotel rewards program.

This was by far the fewest number of people who received complimentary rooms during the past five reports.

Photo by John Locher / Associated Press
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Marc Meltzer

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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