weather icon Light Rain

Nongaming revenue continues to grow in Nevada’s casino-resorts

Updated October 18, 2019 - 12:11 pm

Since 1999, revenue generated by nongaming amenities has exceeded casino revenue in Nevada.

Two decades later, panelists at the final education session of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo explored trends and, more importantly, how knowing them can help resorts determine what they should be offering to draw a crowd that is gradually getting younger.

The four-day event, the largest casino industry gathering in the world, closed its doors at the Sands Expo and Convention Center on Thursday afternoon.

The closing act explored a topic that has confounded casino executives who are seeing their loyal customer base aging and staying away.

One-third spent on gambling

The gap between gaming and nongaming revenue generators has widened since 1999 and by 2013, the split had reached about two-thirds nongaming to one-third gaming.

Research conducted by David Schwartz, the former director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, showed that in 2018, the average Las Vegas visitor spent $434.70 with $285.41 going to nongaming attractions and $149.29 on gambling.

According to research conducted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 30 percent of average visitors are the old guard baby boomers, born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s, and 30 percent are from Generation X, born between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.

That means the largest concentration — 38 percent — are millennials born in the ’80s and ‘90s.

Their brand of entertainment is far different from that enjoyed by longtime casino customers.

Panelist Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, operators of the Downtown Grand, said millennials generally enjoy social interaction — an atmosphere provided by a game like craps.

Schorr is a supporter of esports — competitive video games — that includes social interaction among its players.

“The other thing that is tricky with the casino audience is there’s a perception of what a casino is,” Schorr said. “The Generation X, Z and millennials are all a little off on the betting part. They’d rather see themselves on TV or in a big Instagram or YouTube rush, sharing with their friends, not sitting by themselves playing slots.

“The question is how do you make it social for many in gambling without it being craps,” he said.

A gambling rush

While wagering on esports is in its infancy, panel moderator Blaine Graboyes, CEO of Las Vegas-based GameCo LLC, said that while millennials aren’t the types to sit at a slot machine, he thinks the risk-reward of competition offered by certain skill-based games will drive gaming in the future.

“I would argue if you gave anyone, regardless of the age, a taste of that excitement when they risk money, that’s attractive. That’s just human psyche. I’ve never met somebody when put in that position that doesn’t have an endorphin rush when winning or almost winning,” Graboyes said.

The other innovation that has driven millennials to casinos is nightclubs. Panelists said MGM Resorts International helped drive that trend, but Schorr said it was Steve Wynn who perfected it.

In 2005, when Wynn Las Vegas opened, it opened with what became Tryst nightclub, Schorr said.

“The other thing that happened in 2007 and 2008 was that the world economy tanked and the gambler that (the resort) was built for wasn’t coming and if they did come, they did not have the same spend,” he said.

“You know who had money? The 28-32-year-old who didn’t own a home and still had 500 bucks in their pocket to go spend at the nightclub.”

Schorr said Steve Wynn was smart enough to capitalize on that. “‘Are nightclubs big? I’m going to build the best damn nightclub in the world. I’m going to be the smartest at-the-time 60-year-old that brought a nightclub and he became the best,’” Schorr said.

“I think as a business, it’s sometimes not having all the foresight to be able to predict the future, but seeing when trends change, how may I capitalize on this and make the greatest experience and nobody did it better and that started a trend, and other factors have kept that growing.”

So what’s the next trend?

Two Bit Circus

It could be the quirky Two Bit Circus, a tech-heavy entertainment center filled with virtual reality experiences, social games and escape rooms — called “story rooms” by managers.

Located in downtown Los Angeles, the attraction is free to enter, but participants pay for each experience.

“There’s so much variety inside Two Bit Circus for the entertainment that people stay there for five to seven hours at a time and meet other people and come back again and again,” said panelist Nancy Bennett, co-founder of Two Bit Circus.

Like most of the nongaming revenue sources in casinos, Two Bit Circus relies on a robust food and beverage program to generate income.

Bennett said she is contemplating whether to bring a similar concept to Las Vegas.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Fire damages 7 cars at Las Vegas airport parking garage - VIDEO
Firefighters on Saturday morning extinguished a car blaze that damaged six other vehicles in a parking garage at McCarran International Airport. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Changes Everything: Grandma - LVCVA ad
"Grandma" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
Vegas Changes Everything: Chaos - LVCVA ad
"Chaos" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
New allegations involved Steve, Elaine Wynn - VIDEO
The new allegations were presented Friday in a motion that included a 2018 affidavit, alleging former hairstylist Jorgen Nielsen tried to convince a friend to say Steve Wynn raped her and that she bore his son. The affidavit also included new allegations suggesting Elaine Wynn and Nielson orchestrated the assault scandal. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fitness chain Life Time acquires former Sullivan Square site
Fitness chain Life Time has acquired the former Sullivan Square site in Las Vegas for $14 million. The southwest valley property, across the street from Ikea, is little more than a giant hole in the ground. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm outlet mall changing its name - VIDEO
Chad Dillow, co-owner of Step Right Up, is building his attraction at Prizm Outlets, which recently changed it name from Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, in Primm. It will include 3D trick art, ax throwing, escape rooms and carnival-themed games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
O.J. Simpson files lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan over TMZ story - VIDEO
A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas defamed O.J. Simpson when hotel employees told TMZ he was kicked out of the casino “for belligerence” in November 2017. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Phil Maloof on selling his Palms Place penthouse.
Phil Maloof sold his 59th-floor penthouse at Palms Place. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bleutech announces Las Vegas land purchase deal
Bleutech Park Properties reached a purchase agreement for 210 acres at Las Vegas Boulevard and Cactus Avenue, project spokesman Tom Letizia announced Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 at a news conference at the M Resort. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stolen Dodge Challenger found, suspect arrested - VIDEO
A $250,000 custom-built Dodge Challenger was stolen on Oct. 30, 2019, just before it was to be displayed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas this week. The thief was found by an Nevada Highway Patrol trooper, who rammed the trooper's car with the Challenger and got away. The suspect was ultimately arrested and the car recovered. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terbine's, a tech firm, decision to relocate business from Bay Area to Las Vegas
Terbine's, a tech firm, decision to relocate business from Bay Area to Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
A walk through the historic Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Huntridge Theater became a musical venue in 1992 and was a staging ground for groups on the rise and alternative superstars, from Smashing Pumpkins to Sarah McLachlan, the Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and Fugazi. The venue has been closed since 2004. This video, taken on Oct. 31, 2019, shows what's left of the theater after 15 years. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International looking to sell another property
MGM Resorts International is working to sell its MGM Grand property on the Las Vegas Strip. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Developer Sam Cherry reveals plans for shareDOWNTOWN.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwoman Olivia Diaz will attend this event where plans are revealed for a future apartment complex in the Arts District. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion update - VIDEO
Take a drive outside of the new Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project. (Severiano Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience - VIDEO
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo took place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Southern Nevada could set a new resale-price record in coming months.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – was $310,000 in September. Before the economy crashed last decade, prices peaked in June 2006 at $315,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Walmart container park in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson could be home to a container park associated with a Walmart Inc. initiative. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recession lessons could help Las Vegas face next slump - VIDEO
While the last economic downturn had a dramatic impact on local casinos, most experts expect the industry will be better able to weather the storm during the next recession. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
St. Rose Parkway Construction - Video
St. Rose Parkway continues to have construction along the six-and-a-half mile road. Review-Journal studio host Aaron Drawhorn and business reporter Eli Segall go over the construction projects that are coming to Henderson.
MGM and victims of Oct. 1 reach settlement agreement - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing potentially thousands of victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have reached a tentative settlement of between $735 million and $800 million. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe demolition starts in Las Vegas

The two-week-long demolition of the cafe, which began Monday afternoon, is one of the first steps of the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel’s transformation to Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.