As traffic to Las Vegas sites picks up, retail and online casino operators are finding that customers expect more for their dollar - more welcome bonus casino fun and more freebies. Most of the returnees are 65 and over, which is to be expected based on the vaccination being made to over 65ers almost exclusively for the past few months.
Now that a large percentage of the country’s seniors have been vaccinated, Vegas is noting the turn-around. The numbers still aren’t what they were before the COVID-19 pandemic but every week, the casinos are seeing more customers walk through their doors.
Casino operators are noticing the increase and are looking at ways to build on this base. CEOs of Golden Entertainment, Penn National Gaming Inc and Boyd Gaming Corp are optimistic. Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Red Rock Resorts, said, “I think up until very recently that the 65-year-plus demographic has been fairly shy about coming back to the facility. If the vaccine has continued ramp-up and rollout, we are cautiously optimistic that we’re starting to see the 65-plus demographic slowly return back to our facility.”
Stifel analyst Steve Wieczynski sees the growing number of Americans who are vaccinated as a win-win situation for everyone. “We expect a significant amount of pent-up demand from the (55 and older) demographic as vaccinations kick in and the country slowly goes back to normal” he said. Gaming consultant Debi Nutton agrees.
Other analysts are cautious. They remind casinos that the supply still outstrips the demand and in order to capture the market, they must demonstrate that they are giving casino patrons the best deals possible. Even among older customers, who have more discretionary spending than younger customers, it’s important to provide enough “extras” to encourage them to return and send their friends.
Advisors to Vegas casinos have a number of suggestions that are designed to help the casinos rebound from the lockdowns of the past year. Giving customers more bonuses and more perks is an almost sure-fire way for casinos to lure in those visitors who are venturing back to the casinos.
As Vegas reopens, customers can also take advantage of little-known secrets that will make their visits more enjoyable and more rewarding. Some of these suggestions include:
There’s no need to spend extra money at the clubs to drink. Vegas casinos serve free booze to all players from the $100 poker aficionados to the penny slot gamers. Do your drinking in the casino and you’ll save plenty. Just remember that the casinos serve booze in order to lower inhibitions and keep you playing more games for more time.
So no matter how much you drink, make sure that you hold to your gaming budget. (of course, if you save money on drinks by not buying at the clubs, you’ll have a bigger gambling budget!). Also, if you want the drinks to keep flowing at the casino, be sure to tip the servers.
Choose Your Table Mates
Watch to see how your table mates react to each other. If they are greeting each other like long-lost brothers and sisters, it means that they are local semi-pros who compete against visitors like you as a source of income. Change tables or poker rooms so that you are on a level playing field where you play against other amateurs – including those who have had too much of those free drinks that we discussed previously and therefore may be less focused and more liable to play badly. Best time? 3:00a.m., right before the casinos close for the night.
There’s a Circle Bar in the middle of every casino. The Circle Bar is a great place to enjoy your drinks with no cover charge. If you want to socialize, this is the place to do it because the locals don’t hang out in Circle Bars but other tourists, who are also looking for some interactive socializing, do.
Betting on sports has always been seen as a good way to stretch the gambling budget. You don’t have to be a sports fan to put some money on sports competitions. Then, you can watch the event while you wait to see how your wager turns out.
Craps is probably the best game to play for newbies who don’t know much about gambling but want to get in on the action.
It’s an easy game with simple rules and opportunities to achieve big wins. As you’re getting started, focus on betting on the PASS Line. It’s as close to a 50/50 bet as you’ll find at the casino but doesn’t demand anything of you other than a few dollars and a friendly smile.
You don’t have to be a high roller to act like a high roller. Why do you want to act like a high roller? Because casinos give out free stuff to people that they think are high rollers in order to get them to ratchet up their bets and play longer. The way that you present yourself is everything because casinos can’t track exactly how much someone is betting so they estimate and assess the possibilities.
You can give the impression that you’re a high roller by taking out a big marker. That will almost certainly get the casino’s attention which, in turn, should encourage the staff to make sure that you get free room, free meals, show tickets and more. Post-pandemic, many of the casino resorts are being generous with room comps and other goodies so it’s definitely worth a try.
Play Like a Local
Many of the Vegas gamblers are locals. There are those who are semi-pro – not good enough to make it on the pro circuit but good enough to compete against the tourists and make a living at it. You’ll find them at the big casinos.
Other locals, however, play at smaller casinos where the table games are cheaper and there are more player-favorable rules. Take your cue from the locals and head to Fremont Street where the “downtown” casinos, including El Cortez, Four Queens, Binions and others, give you a more rewarding gaming adventure.
Pass up your casino’s gift shop and go to the Gambler’s General Store where you can find the best souvenirs of your casino adventure. The General Store features old casino tokens, multi-colored dice, blackjack shoes, playing cards, books, software and other gambling paraphernalia and more. The Store isn’t in the center of the Strip but it’s not far either and it’s well worth a visit.
In addition, you can save money by bypassing the casino boutiques and heading out to the malls which are attached to them. The malls feature unique items at reasonable prices.