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Which changes would you make to improve Las Vegas?

Last edit: jucifers on Friday, 16th September 2016 9:33 am
Last response by rollsroycefan 23rd December 3:22pm

Has Las Vegas lost its mojo? For the first time since the 80's, Vegas will go a full decade without a spectacular hotel opening. Las Vegas' recent innovations? Paid parking, shitty odds, weak comps, overpriced food and run-down hotels.

Is Las Vegas the victim of MBA types who never understood what made Las Vegas great? How can people who don't like casinos ever hope to maximize casino profits?

Which changes would you make to improve Las Vegas? Which projects would you most like to see completed? Which attractions would you like to see on the Las Vegas Strip?


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 vespajet responded on Friday, 16th September 2016

With casinos being within a few hours drive of the vast majority of Americans, Vegas needs to do things to make itself stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, things like resort fees, paid parking, bad gaming conditions, and higher prices on food and drink doesn't help bring more folks out there. Why should Ma and Pa Kettle from Pig's Knuckle, Arkansas go to Vegas when they can go to an MLife or Total Rewards property in Tunica and not be nickled and dimed the whole time?

On the flip side, some of the casino companies are trying very hard to get players who generally play in Vegas to check out their properties in other markets. In the last month, I've gotten two different junket offers from MGM Resorts for the Beau Rivage including round flights and surprisingly, some of them are flights out of Atlanta and others are out of Macon (about a 75-90 minute drive away). But MGM's PGP stuff is even creeping in on these junkets, as you can guarantee your room type for $60.

Part of me hopes that Caesars ends up getting broken up as part of bankruptcy settlement with their creditors. Maybe if there are some additional operators on the Strip, things could shift back towards the days before the downturn that led to the resort fees and other fees as a way to generate additional income with very little work or investment. Resorts World and Alon will bring new operators to the Strip, but these resorts are not the sort of properties catering towards the middle of the market.

 hail2skins responded on Friday, 16th September 2016

Its a good topic. Unfortunately, you're likely viewing through the prism of a relatively longtime visitor who are seeing the degradation of your Vegas experience due to your reasons mentioned (and I don't disagree with them). The problem is that the operators appear to be seeing something different....increased visitorship, decent gaming revenue, and a booming convention business. Right now at least, what incentive do they have to change?

One of my personal observations was that with the boom of the 1989-2000 you had a nice evolution of the whole resort experience, starting with the Mirage and in my mind culminating with Venetian and Bellagio. But it got to a point where one started to wonder "how much nicer can they make these places?" I'd like to see a return to themed resorts, and if they ever get built, Resorts World seems like a nice start, and Chuckmonster's hints of what we can expect from Alon sound promising.

Otherwise, just a return to somewhat affordable gambling on the Strip. I think its absurd that you have to pay $25 minimum to pay real 3/2 blackjack at a lot of Strip properties. I know the operators claim that they had to go to 6/5 as the base game because players today are too smart, but how smart are they really if they knew that 3/2 was the standard before and yet are still packing the 6/5. I realize that costs have gone up and that $5 minimums on the Strip are likely a relic of the past, but come on.

Of course, I've spent the last decade as pretty much a Fremont Street customer. Would like to see more development in that area.

 StudiodeKadent responded on Friday, 16th September 2016

"Is Las Vegas the victim of MBA types who never understood what made Las Vegas great?"

To an extent, this is true; Vegas is being ran by accountants rather than entrepreneurs. But to some degree this is kind of inevitable because Vegas is a very low-margin market. A lot of the travellers are not high-rollers and competition between properties and resorts is very intense.

In addition, for gambling revenues Vegas is competing internationally with Macau and various destinations in Asia. Vegas doesn't have Macau's extreme level of access to heavy-gambling superstitiously-gambling Asian tourists, and most American hardcore gamblers have at least some basic knowledge of strategy.

Gambling is less important to Vegas than it used to be too; many young people would rather go to a nightclub than gamble.

I think what is happening is that the shift away from gambling combined with the intensification of both international and domestic competition has meant Vegas has gotten somewhat desperate. And Vegas is really a red-ocean market; how could it really attract new gamblers (Crown and Resorts World have pre-existing Asian client-bases, which partially solves this problem since they can 'import' a lot of new guests)?

Resort Fees are a different issue; partially they're a product of intensified competition (websites allowing quick and easy price comparisons) and partially driven by differential tax treatment for resort fees over standard room rates. Clearly the differential tax treatment needs to end; I'd reduce taxes on room rates to the same level as resort fees are taxed (this would also make Vegas less expensive to visit).

The changes I'd make? Simple; I'd offer basically the same gambling and comp conditions that were common in Vegas around the time Aria opened. Fully liberal 3:2 blackjack rules, H17 lower limits, S17 for green and up, and I'd use 66% penetration for game protection and ASMs to speed up the shuffle time. I'd replace 6:5 payouts on single deck games and super-low-limit games with 7:5 ones (still substantially increases the house edge but not as drastically as 6:5, which is rape). I'd have more single-zero roulette and less double-zero roulette. I'd probably find some way to improve baccarat conditions too (I've been working on a variant).

Resorts World and Alon absolutely need to be finished. With their access to Asian clients there is a chance they could grow the market somewhat by introducing more people to Vegas. That said, I'd suspect most of Genting and Crown's high-limit clients are familiar with Vegas already.

Also, New York New York needs to replace its terrible rollercoaster with a good one. Murren should get Intamin or Mack Rides (probably the latter would be more reliable) on the phone and get a quality coaster built.

 hail2skins replied on Friday, 16th September 2016

SdK: They have reportedly rolled out a triple zero roulette table at the Venetian. HA of over 7 percent.

 StudiodeKadent replied on Saturday, 17th September 2016

Triple Zero Roulette?

Oh mon dieu.... To be fair, its no surprise The Venetian would do this.

 Chris77 replied on Saturday, 17th September 2016

Some very good insights there, but the differential tax treatment of resort fees is a long-standing myth that seems to perpetuate.

The confusion likely comes from how many properties advertise their room rates without tax, but their resort fees including tax. e.g. Room Rate: $199 + tax, Resort Fee: $28 with taxes included. That $28 is actually billed as $25 + tax.

Either way from a legal perspective, both room rates and resort fees are considered "rent" by Clark County and they are always taxed at the same rate, regardless of how a business chooses to split them out or spin them for the purposes of advertised pricing, travel agent commissions, etc.

Link: Clark County General Information Guide for Transient Lodging Establishments

 StudiodeKadent replied on Sunday, 18th September 2016


Thanks for that info. I was always under the impression the two forms of revenue were taxed differently. My error.

In that case I'd say resort fees are the unfortunate byproduct not of a lack of competition, but of extremely intense competition in a market that's highly sensitive to base room rates. Resorts want to increase their quality (and the profitability of their amenities through bundling... which is precisely what happens at ultra-high-end hotels (since the gym is 'included' but not everyone uses it)) but they don't want to have to advertise the "all inclusive" price.

Let us face it; mass markets are generally frugal. If a place advertises itself on the basis of "okay, our price is higher but look at all our included amenities!" then this probably wouldn't appeal to a mass market that's arguably more price-conscious than it is value-conscious.

 LakeMeadLakeErie responded on Friday, 16th September 2016

I would like to see management at every hotel/casino put a priority on hiring people that came from Vegas or experienced Vegas at least from the 70s. Doesn't mean they had to be working at that time, but at least experienced it fully in their childhood or teens. While there have been greater decades in Vegas history, the 80's perhaps was for me personally the last good decade of Vegas from a service standpoint.

You've had such an influx of new out-of-state population, and therefore new casino workers, that never experienced Vegas even 20 years ago let alone longer. Consequently, they don't know what this town was about so it's up to the management to teach them. If I guy from Wisconsin moves to Vegas and gets a management job at Caesars, how does his Wisconsin experiences in service going to compare to a higher level expected in Vegas? Everything from a service level has been getting sloppy for several decades now and it continues to get worse.

If I could throw something else out there, I would put a very high value on the physical property management. Mow the damn lawn, trim the bushes, plant flowers, paint the properties, wash the windows, power wash the parking garage, if you're going to install polished brass railings then polish them once in a while. It's the little things that have gone to pot. I remember hearing a story a few years ago that Strip property owners actually walked the Strip and admittedly were shocked at the condition of some of their properties and yet nothing really has improved since then.

Almost forgot, it's been said many times, but the circus acts on the sidewalks on the Blvd have to go, completely classless. It's not entertainment by any stretch. These guys that bring their own amplifiers especially. I met a friend in town a few weekends ago and we ate at Mon Ami Gabi, while always a popular spot, the crap around it has ruined the experience completely. You can't even hear the music playing at Bellagio during the fountain show, its drowned out by guys playing garbage cans among other clown acts.

Of course there are more items to improve, but that's a good start.

 levans responded on Saturday, 17th September 2016

Well the first step is to eliminate the resort fees since it's a scam that has long since outlived it's usefulness. The second thing is to yes, curb the massive amount of people on the Strip hustling for money since it has gotten to the intolerable point. Third, the casinos need to pay attention to the outside of their businesses. It's ridiculous that the escalators don't work on any given day depending on where you are. Resorts World, Lucky Dragon and Alon are a great step in bringing in new visitors and the downtown area is far superior now than it was when I returned to Vegas in 2014.

 Tzsrose responded on Saturday, 17th September 2016

First of all I would close traffic on the strip and when you walk, there would interesting things to experience and enjoy. Also I think there should be "deals" like before. It use to be that the food and hotel rooms were cheap and you spent money gambling. Now if I want to gamble and have fun I go to to Reno, if I want to see shows and sites.. Vegas, but I don't gamble there.

 blissfulignoramus responded on Saturday, 17th September 2016

"Is Las Vegas the victim..."

Did you actually ask that? Is Las Vegas the victim? Wow, that's funny.

I've been going to Vegas as an adult for 25 years. Trust me, Vegas is no more the victim now that it was 25 years ago. Whatever the market forces are that exist, that mean "Vegas" can charge customers for more, and provide less, they do not reflect a victimhood situation for Vegas. If there is a victim here, it ain't Vegas.

I've been going to Vegas once a year with friends since I was in my early 20s. We have always been ultra cheap about it. I'm talking stay at Somerset House/sleep in your car cheap. Nowadays we are middle class and have good jobs, and stay in actual hotel rooms, but we're still pretty cheap.

In that time, I have definitely witnessed a deterioration in what is available for the cheapo. In the good old days, we could plug our asses down down in the Stardust Casino, place a few single digit sports bets, and enjoy free drinks all day. This translated nicely to the Bellagio, where we got the same treatment, with better beer choices and comfier chairs. Stardust is gone, and Bellagio now doesn't give you much unless you're a degenerate horse gambler -- that can be faked if you know how, but overall the Strip has become a typical resort where there is no escape from being gouged.

So what did we do? We moved downtown. The same trend is evident, but being nice combined with good tips gets us a lot of drink tickets in sports books. The room rates are terrific. People are nicer. The odds are better. But most importantly, we can still do what's fun: hang out in our room and drink. Observe and laugh at the circus that surrounds us. Engage in light vice activity legally and safely. Recall memories of past trips, and make new ones.

We could still do this on the Strip, and probably will at some point. We've merely made an adjustment based on current conditions and our preferences. Things have tightened up but Vegas is still a place that offers something to everyone on the economic spectrum. My goal for every Vegas trip, which nowadays involves a transcontinental flight and a hotel for three days, is always for it not to cost anything at all, and that happens reasonably frequently. My next trip will be on frequent flyer miles, and a decent hotel room (shared) will probably cost me $150 for three nights on a premium weekend. If I'm not stupid, BIG IF, I will have a chance at meeting that goal, and regardless, have a great time for not a lot of money. Still a GREAT deal.

If Vegas prices itself out for people like me: looking for gambling/hanging out with friends/not a luxury experience but respectable, then for us that means losing mojo, and we will stop going. But clearly we are not even close to that. Either way I'm not a victim.

 EnglishBill responded on Sunday, 18th September 2016

My thoughts mostly apply to downtown, as that's where we stay but one change will effect the whole of LV. taxis. These guys must change. the long hauling, rude drivers, filthy cabs & lack of control does take the edge of a trip, especially after a long flight. Not everyone has the ability to use Uber & hwy should they?
Other changes we don't like are the amount of children on Fremont at night. Kids don't need to see the freaks "performing" or the adult shows/dancers.
Also taking of the street freaks, those with no entertainment value, like the saddo in the diaper, should just go.

Low odds, resort fees poor comps can all be avoided by shopping around & refusing to play 6-5, at least downtown.

 Drake responded on Sunday, 18th September 2016

Implement fixed-rate taxi fares from the airport to every hotel and motel in town. Same with the return trip. End the bullshit and end it now.

I hope the exodus from the strip to downtown continues to grow, and that offering old-school gambling and affordable dining can be profitable enough to make DT a vibrant "second" Vegas.

I was getting tired of all the street characters myself until I came across the black-leather-and-chains girls in front of Planet Hollywood. Then it hit me: let the girls stay and shoo away the idiot guys in their superhero costumes who look like a bunch of hopped-up tweakers anyway.

Trust me, it's for the betterment of Vegas.

I'd love to see both MGM and Caesars sell off several of their properties, just to see if more competition on the strip would bring back some of the features we miss: looser slots, better VP pay tables, better rules, cheaper food, etc.

I do miss the Graveyard Specials at the 24-hour cafes. I'm sure that's asking too much.

Finally, live bands in every casino's main lounge again, every night. Entertain me for FREE. I'm paying an outrageous daily resort fee, so act like one again. It's a radical thought these days, but hey it might just help.

 twofours responded on Sunday, 18th September 2016

Just try and be a Casino. Don't be a mall with a casino.
A Chilli's on the Strip!? I live a 1/2 mile from one and the food is not that great. I can think of a million other things than Burger Kings that would be unique to Vegas.
The last straw for me was the parking fees. It's like charging your friends to park when they come over.
Super selective where I spend my money on trips to Vegas now.I wonder if Dotties has a rewards club.
Oh yeah they should also ban jogging. It is not conducive to the Las Vegas image.

 BillDonovan responded on Tuesday, 20th September 2016

It would be cool if Caesars sold a few properties (part of their BK proceedings), and MGM sold a few properties (to pay down debt), sold to independent owners, to reintroduce the competitive creative spirit into Vegas again!

 StudiodeKadent replied on Tuesday, 20th September 2016

The strip alone has MGM, Penn National (Tropicana), Cosmopolitan, Caesars, Phil Ruffin (TI), Las Vegas Sands, SLS, Casino Royale and Wynn Resorts. That is nine different operators, with Genting and Crown (via Alon) coming into the market as well. Then look at the various offstrip/downtown operators.

Las Vegas is the most competitive gaming market in the world already. Nevada is (IIRC) the only gambling jurisdiction that has open market entry. It is also a very price-sensitive, low-margin market. I don't know of any other hotel destination where Forbes 4 Star accomodations often go for less than 150USD per night, let alone ones with the substantial variety of restaurant/bar/club/show/attraction options that Las Vegas has.

The problem with Vegas is not a lack of competition.

Indeed, resort fees are arguably a byproduct of such intense competition. MGM's Profit Growth Plan involves some utter atrocities in my view, but its clearly there to fatten margins, and Vegas is a very thin-margin market (contra Macau, which makes huge ROI's).

The fact is that the Vegas market has changed. It is less gambling-focused and a lot of Vegas' high-end gambling traffic now goes to Macau instead (or casinos closer to home, for much of the US mass market). Mass market gambling is razor-thin in terms of margins. Young people seem to gamble a lot less than middle-aged and above.

Do I think that the casinos are making bad decisions by making drinks cheaper and game rules tighter? Absolutely! They're killing fish before they grow into whales and making casino gaming even less enticing to young people. But there's a logic behind their decisions, and its a logic which has some validity in the hyper-competitive market of Las Vegas.

 jucifers responded on Thursday, 22nd September 2016

Thanks to everyone who commented. Lots of great ideas here. Hopefully, a few casino executives were taking notes.

 wpsteel66 responded on Saturday, 1st October 2016

Get rid off all the street performers and drum circles along with porn slippers...NYNY must have some security or other policies that do not allow these people in the Park area or in front of NYNY...this used to be a common area for these people...NYNY did have $10 BJ with 3:2 and surrender plus some other good rules with their multi deck shoe hit soft 17 games.

 4theoldman1 responded on Monday, 17th October 2016

Agree that the buskers and oddities of humanoids on the Strip must be removed once and for all. I always feel like I might have to put up my dukes and go to war with some lunatic at any moment. Not pleasant, not what we pay for in the overall Las Vegas experience.

 4theoldman1 responded on Monday, 17th October 2016

Regarding our experience with cab service, we found, somewhat surprisingly, clean, pleasant, no-funny-business cabbies for every jaunt around town. Some rides were on the terrifyingly fast side but skill prevailed, thankfully. Maybe with the looming Uber and Lyft options, cabbies are tightening-up their act.

 4theoldman1 responded on Monday, 17th October 2016

Oh, my bad, I didn't read all the way through your cogent comments. Yes, children are inappropriate on Fremont. Either they are the kids of hotel workers or sadly dragged-in by piss-poor parents. One solves all issues by removing buskers and indecents. They are an ugly hold-over from a long-gone past town.

 4theoldman1 responded on Monday, 17th October 2016

Essentially free live music in major lobbies and lounges, Yup. Like them, just tip them appropriately. Big disappointment recently was the piano at Petrossian Bellagio; play one song, take a fifteen-minute break! Nope. Bye.

 4theoldman1 responded on Monday, 17th October 2016

Hahaha! Ban joggers. Yup. Why oh why do I have to restrain myself from lifting an arm for them to closeline on? Show-offs, twitchy little fucks who have no role in this town. Wanna run? Hang-out downtown at the wrong hour and run for your effin' life, you little schmuck. Just sayin'. Thank you, Carry on.

 rollsroycefan responded on Friday, 23rd December 2016

I just hope MGM gets rid of the signs on the hallways at Bellagio from floor 4-28 and they should redesign the corridors, replacing the current wallpaper within the hallways like what ARIA is currently doing with it's guestroom since it's getting old and boring.