Nevada casinos Chinese demographic

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter is excited for nonstop air service from Beijing to Sin City, as the Chinese demographic is expected to lead to increased revenue for Nevada casinos. (Image: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

Nevada casinos won big in October, as revenues climbed 11.1 percent compared to the same month in 2015. Total win came in at $986.2 million, Nevada’s third-best month since gambling was legalized in 1931.

October also marked yet another positive month for Silver State gaming operators, and puts the industry up 4.9 percent for the fiscal year that began in June. “The casinos ran luckier than they did last year, or the customers ran unluckier,” Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton told the Associated Press.

The Strip performed even better, as revenues were up 14 percent to nearly $563 million.

But while gaming win is trending higher, overall visitation in Las Vegas is surprisingly going in the opposite direction. Visitation was down 0.6 percent in October, a trivial yet somewhat alarming data point.

For All the Tea in Vegas

The slight decline in visitation is being credited to three annual conventions rotating out of Southern Nevada for their 2016 events. The Global Gaming Expo, an international trade show typically held in October, also met in September this year.

But regardless of the fact that there were less people walking the Strip, Vegas still won more revenue in 2016 than 2015. That might signal that Sin City is successfully attracting the itching-to-play Chinese demographic.

As People’s Republic President Xi Jinping continues his crackdown on gambling and VIP operations in Macau, Chinese citizens are looking to new international destinations to take their wagers. Australia’s Crown Resorts is one such operator trying to reap the Chinese gambling dollar, a mission that has landed three of its employees in Chinese prisons.

Tens of thousands of Las Vegas guests will arrive from China this year, with more hopefully on the way in 2017. When they unpack their bags, many Chinese tourists are ready to gamble.

“It’s just something that is popular because it is something they can’t do back home,” Peter Phang, manager of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s office in China told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

US operators recognize the value of the Asian gambler, and one company is ready to welcome them with open arms. The Lucky Dragon, the first resort on the Strip fully committed to catering to Asian customers, opened this month with 37 tables, 300 slot machines, and five Asian cuisine restaurants.

Holiday Celebration

Nevada casinos are positioned to close out the calendar year in strong fashion. With overall gaming up almost five percent, the final two months should bring even higher gains.

Hainan Airlines will begin nonstop commercial flights from Beijing to Las Vegas in December. That will benefit not only the Lucky Dragon Casino, but Nevada as a whole.

Next month also comes with five weekends. Christmas Eve takes place on a Saturday, meaning the Strip should be busy throughout the holiday week. The year concludes with a weekend finish, as the New Year rings in on Saturday night.

Las Vegas has always been the gambling epicenter of the world, and despite losing to Macau in terms of total revenue in recent years, Sin City appears to be regaining its stronghold on the industry.