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LETTER: No secret to the revival of downtown Las Vegas casinos

I read with interest the Review-Journal’s recent story reporting that the downtown area had the biggest percentage increase in gaming win of any region in the state, dwarfing the Strip tenfold. What I found even more interesting was some of the reasons downtown hotel execs gave for the increase:

— Downtown Grand: We have eSports.

— Plaza: We upgraded our pool and added bingo.

— Fremont: We added a new bar.

— The D/Golden Gate: We’re building more slot space.

This gave me a pretty good chuckle. It is almost like they all got together ahead of time to figure out how to keep the cat in the bag and mislead their Strip contemporaries as to the reasons for success.

As someone with more than two decades of Las Vegas tourism promotion, I can tell you what they are doing right: Lower limits, more favorable game rules, looser slots, free-flowing liquor comps, and more affordable food and beverage. They know they are going to get your money eventually. Not only isn’t it a sin to let you play longer, but even after you’ve lost that first $100 bill, you are more likely to pull out the next one because you got your entertainment value out of it.

The mantra of Strip casinos has been “people aren’t gambling as much, so we want to focus on other revenue sources.” The reality is that people aren’t gambling on the Strip as much in recent years because those casinos decided to choke the golden goose some time ago. Slots were tightened, limits were raised, house-favorable rules like lower-pay blackjack were instituted, and people simply lost their money more quickly.

Oh, and could downtown’s lower (or non-existent) resort fees, free guest parking and lower-priced dining (both fine and casual) be leaving people more money to gamble with? Food for thought.

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