Tourists Primarily Visit Vegas to Gamble

A newly released Las Vegas visitor profile report has revealed that the main reason tourists chose to travel to Las Vegas in 2019 was to gamble at casinos. The findings are expected to guide casinos on how to market themselves to visitors, and suggests investment in non-gaming attractions is less important.

A group of tourists with cameras walk a city street.

A recent report on Las Vegas’ tourists has found that four out of five visitors gambled in the city in 2019, up from 70 percent in 2018. ©Free-Photos/Pixabay

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s (LVCVA) 2019 Visitor Profile report found that more than 80 percent of tourists visiting the city last year gambled, up from around 70 percent in previous years. Additionally, it also found that tourists were gambling for longer and with more money.

The average time visitors spent gambling in 2019 increased to 2.7 hours, more than double the 1.2 hours spent by gamblers in 2018. The average gambling budget was also around $591, a roughly 10 percent increase from the average gambling budget of $527 in 2018.

In 2019, Las Vegas also saw a rise in new visitors. Roughly 25 percent of visitors to the city in 2019 were visiting for the first time, up from 18 percent in 2018. Around four in ten people visited the city more than once in the year, with visitors staying in Vegas an average 1.7 times per year.

The LVCVA’s Visitor Profile report has long helped Las Vegas casinos and resorts to tailor their approach to satisfying the desires of the millions of visitors to the city. The news is likely to come as a surprise to many who have spent the last decade trying to market Las Vegas as a family-friendly destination.

The news comes shortly after the announcement that Las Vegas’ first adults-only venue is set to open by Halloween this year. The 35-story Circa Resort and Casino will feature a two-story casino with 1,350 slot machines, 49 table games, and a 1,000 person sportsbook.

According to the casino’s Twitter account, the resort’s mission is to help return some of Vegas’ old-fashioned mystique and is a response to many visitor’s preferences for an adults-only trip. The recent Visitor Profile report also mirrors this, with fewer survey respondents bringing children with them to Las Vegas in 2019.

“That number [of respondents bringing children] hadn’t moved for seven years, around 8 to 10 percent. Now, it’s 5 to 6 percent. It’s definitely a more adult-oriented visitor, the mainstay of Las Vegas.”Keving Bagger, Director of Research, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal

The report was undertaken by GLS Research, a San Francisco-based firm that surveyed 300 unique visitors per month and asked questions surrounding everything from transportation preferences to budgets. Of all respondents, 99 percent of Vegas visitors were satisfied with their trip, up from 98 percent in 2018.

A Poor Outlook for 2020

While the findings of the report may have helped Vegas’ gaming industry with future planning in the event of a normal year, the unexpected outbreak of the coronavirus could render many of the points irrelevant. Nevada’s gaming industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with tourism levels sinking to an all-time low.

According to a number of casino groups including Caesars Entertainment, casinos in regional markets such as Mississippi and Louisiana have performed far better than Las Vegas properties. Regional markets have reported revenue gains of 2 percent throughout June, with operating income up 70 percent.

Comparatively, Caesars properties in Vegas have reported declines in revenue of 58 percent in the same period, with Caesars casinos in the city currently unprofitable. While some have highlighted that regional casinos had been open longer and were therefore likely to perform better, experts say Las Vegas casino performances have been weak regardless.

Two-thirds of the nation’s casinos have reopened since they were closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus in March. While states such as Louisiana and Mississippi began to reopen their casinos in May, Nevada didn’t begin to welcome guests until June 4.

According to the 2019 Visitor Profile, roughly 49 percent of Las Vegas’ 43 million tourists traveled to the city by air. With domestic and international travel expected to be severely disrupted until the end of the year and strict capacity limits set on casinos, it’s unlikely that the industry will bounce back anytime soon.

More than half of current Las Vegas casino visitors are local to Nevada, with the highest number of out-of-state visitors coming from California. Surveys also indicate that currently, more lower-spending young adults are visiting the city as opposed to Baby Boomers who are at a higher risk of suffering coronavirus complications.

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