Dayclubs, sports bars and the internet; where is Las Vegas headed?

The casino industry is dynamic. Nothing remains the same for long and those who fail to note that fact get left in the dust.  The famous trendsetters like Steve Wynn are always reinventing the casino experience and broadening both our concept of what constitutes a casino and their own.  At the moment, Wynn is off in Macau building a flower palace for $4billion dollars, but back at home in Las Vegas things are still evolving.  Behind Steve and the other big name visionaries is an army of people adding their bit to the evolution of the modern casino.  Sometimes, it is possible to see and understand the new directions and sometimes our crystal ball is a bit murky, at least mine is murky.

Take Station Casinos for example, it is quietly adding a chain of small sports bars to its portfolio, while at the same time it is offering online and mobile betting.  The sports bars are not likely to be game changers, but they will give Station a more diversified cash flow; the online gaming is intended to do the same thing – diversify the source of Station’s cash.  The online gaming may also be intended to reduce the company’s reliance on the old bricks and mortar casinos.  So, maybe the sports bars are part of a long- term, well-thought-out and game changing strategy.  That is the question: Is Station going to slowly reduce its high-cost bricks and mortar business in favor of light, fast and cheap sports bars attached to the online company?

Station Casinos has confirmed that it will replacing one of the oldest bars in Las Vegas with a Wildfire Casino. The Lift is located on South Valley View Boulevard near Sirius Avenue. The Lift is a 5,000-square-foot gaming establishment with about two dozen machines, a restaurant and a bar…There are currently four Wildfire locations throughout the valley, according to Station Casinos’ website. Joyce Lupiani, KTNV, 7-30-13

Station Casinos has released a mobile sports wagering app. Fresh off a successful field trial, Sports Connection Mobile is now available on smartphones and tablets…A player can link the free Sports Connection account to multiple wireless devices and cash out at several properties. In line with state law, Sports Connection users can access the app anywhere within the state of Nevada. In order to enroll, all players must be 21 or older and first sign up in a Station Casinos sports book, or at the El Cortez with a valid identification and $50 deposit.  Ed Komenda, Las Vegas Sun, 7-29-13

There is another potentially game changing trend that has been under way for a long time in Vegas – the poolside, dayclubs. Hard Rock started the trend and was extremely successful with the concept.  So, in the grand tradition of Las Vegas, every casino added an enhanced pool with its dayclub.   They are not cheap, it costs $20 to $80 million to build one of those delightful little hangouts for the 20 and 30-somethings; but the clubs do make lots of money.  However, they do not mint it.  And this is where the trends get murky for me; the dayclubs don’t mint money, they divert it from someplace else.  At the moment it seems to be the showrooms and the casino floors that are providing the dollars being spend diving and dancing.

When those 30-somethings are registered in the hotel, playing by the pool in the day time and dancing the night away in the equally expensive nightclubs, they are not spending money in the casino.  Not only are they not in the casino, but no one from their room is gambling either – every room they occupy is one not used by a gambler.  Yep, things are changing in Las Vegas just as they have always changed.  However, it is possible that some of these changes will not be so good for the traditional casino industry in the long run.

Nightclubs, dayclubs make competition harder for shows; With increased options in the city and a growing population of 20-somethings, Las Vegas show business is only getting tougher. Traditionally ticketed shows such as “Divas Las Vegas” or “Jersey Boys” are up against not only one another, but are competing against an increasing number of dayclubs, nightclubs and celebrity-owned restaurants for visitors’ entertainment dollars. In some demographics they may be fighting a losing battle.  The Millennial generation in particular tends to traverse dayclubs when the sun’s out, then they’ll have dinner at a celebrity-owned restaurant and head to a nightclub, leaving no room for a show experience. Laura Carroll, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7-29-13


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