Thursday, July 10, 2008

Downright Awful Numbers!

The Nevada casino numbers for the month of May are in and it is not pretty! Strip revenue was down 16% representing almost $100 million less in business over last year. The news pounded casino stocks with MGM dropping more than 20% and Wynn taking it in the shorts to the tune of 10%. Many of the casino stocks are trading at levels not seen in 2 or 3 years.

This is just more bad news for the Strip.The way they spent money building the latest wave of resorts is coming back to haunt them. They have relied on the "non-gaming" business to rake in the bucks and that money just isn't there anymore. Less people are coming and those that do are spending less money. Out goes the dinner at Emeril's or Wolfgang's when for 1/4 of the price you can eat at the coffee shop.

Vegas got away from its roots in the effort to become all things to all people(with cash!) The casino became an afterthought and they still apparently don't get it(see my May 19th comments on the new City Center hotel "ARIA.".) They need to get back to offering a good deal on a vacation and good odds in the casino. It is Vegas. Sell it for what it is and stop being something it's not. Otherwise this downturn is going to last longer than anyone wants to believe.

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1 comment:

LVBear said...

Maybe the suckers are finally getting it. With ripoffs like 6 to 5 blackjack, sportsbooks refusing to take bets of more than chump change, short-pay video poker and many similar insults to our city’s visitors, most people can find better quality gaming elsewhere. It appears the other overpriced local “amenities” are among the first things people cut out when times get tougher. Casino greed is killing the golden goose. The Las Vegas casino bosses’ business model, which seems to rely on the theory that there’ll always be more suckers to plunder, may finally be coming to a screeching halt.

Las Vegas once was a worthwhile destination, not only for a person of average means, but for skilled patrons, too. The average person has been priced out of the market by the greedy corporate barons now running the joints, and the skilled patron has been effectively stifled by the preponderance of garbage games. But usually what is good for the skilled patron is also good for the casino. Better games will attract more skilled patrons, but will also let the suckers hold onto their money a little longer. So they come back more often and lose more, though not quite as quickly. With the “let’s bankrupt them all as quickly as we can” attitude so prevalent now, led by the despicable Harrah’s, no wonder tourism is taking such a hit.

My personal wish list:

1. Harrah’s to go into bankruptcy and be forced to divest itself of most of its properties, which could then be acquired by individual entrepreneurs willing to offer the suckers reasonably fair treatment.

2. Some imaginative and competent owners and managers to take over the failing dumps downtown. The only thing downtown has to offer is better games. But the current bunch of failures running the downtown dumps can’t seem to get that through their thick skulls, as their games mimic the Strip, getting worse and worse. No reason to go downtown anymore.

3. Wynn to go bankrupt. The loathsome Mr. Wynn, who knowingly hired an individual who committed blatant perjury in a legal case involving patrons, presides over a sportsbook that is among the worst-run with the rudest management anywhere, and tolerates unparalleled intrusion into the privacy of patrons via Social Security number harassment of all but the lowest-level players, deserves to be put out of business.

4. The remaining operators to see this economic downturn as an opportunity to return to giving the patrons some value, instead of just ripping off our visitors with bloated prices on rooms and shows, poor service, bad attitudes, and lousy games.

Las Vegas has plundered the suckers for a long time. The motto for the Convention and Visitors Bureau ought to be, “Las Vegas – a great place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit.” It’s time to get back to the basics of offering value to the average visitor. “Value” and “service” appear to be words most of the present crop of casino managers are not familiar with – short-term results and today’s stock prices seem to be their only concern. Right now, they are getting what they deserve.


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