Las Vegas has always been the greatest chameleon city in the US. Ever since its foundations were laid, it has been branded and re-branded as anything from the ultimate vent and divorce town during the Great Depression to a kid-friendly place full of water slides and whatnots. The city has also just grabbed headlines for opening what will become the city’s most sustainable way of growing food using hydroponics, at Urban Greens.
So we know that Vegas contains a lot of contradictions. Like it or not, it’s an attraction that many have on their bucket list. Throughout its constant and often drastic changes, Vegas has always stayed the Mecca for fervent players, even today with the online casino industry running full steam. If you think that’s no big deal, just check out this well written review and you’ll see what the city is competing against.
However, times change as they always will, and with the way things are going we are more likely to plan our next Vegas trip for our family holidays than for our solo escapades. Yet, when you look at the reasons behind this shift, you can’t really say anything else than “it’s only natural”.
Because of Competition
Up until the early 1990s, Vegas was mostly focused on attracting gamblers from around the country. However, changes in gaming laws brought a new era to the Silver State – one which shifted the aim of casino magnates towards another demographic.
The year of 1989 brought a new law in the United States which allowed US cities across the country to open hotel casinos. The law turned Vegas casinos to scratch their heads about how they would keep their customers when everyone else was offering the same product.
The most logical thing to do was to try and attract another prosperous target group – families. The first family resorts were MGM Grand and the Luxor on the Strip, but soon enough even Gulf casinos like the Gold Coast tried to make themselves more kid-friendly.
A Shift of Generations
During the last decades of the past century and through the early 2000s, Vegas was still mostly a gambling city. Most of this success was owed to the “baby boomer” generation born between the 40s and 60s, who were Vegas’ number one customers.
The baby boomers are more educated and wealthier than past and present generations, but also one that seeks quality entertainment even in their old age. This taste for more expensive leisure was what brought solid profits to Vegas casinos throughout the years.
However, with the turn of the century the X and Y generations became of legal age, thus attracting the interest of casino business. The newer generations were less affluent than their predecessors and often looked for more value for their money. This, in turn, made gambling less of a target activity, and more of a thing you just try for fun.
Change in Demographics
According to a 2015 study for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority, new and old visitors have different ideas in mind when they come to Vegas:
- Only 12% of recurring visitors in 2015 came with a primary purpose to gamble.
- 42% of recurring visitors visited the city for vacation or pleasure purposes.
- Only 1% of first-time visitors in 2015 came with the sole purpose of gambling.
- 73% of first-time visitors came with vacation or pleasure in mind.
- 79% of all visitors (new and recurring) were married.
When you consider these numbers, the targeting of family visitors only seems logical, as the demographics aren’t quite what you would call “pro-gambling”:
The Success of Having Both
The bottom line is that the underlying reason for all the changes we’ve seen in Vegas over the past is, naturally, profits. After the early 1990s shift towards families and the 2000s pro-gambling marketing campaigns, Vegas has become this neon hybrid of a family town with a world-class gaming side-show.
This acceptance of the family focus, while keeping the original appeal has proven to be quite successful for a number of Vegas casinos. One example is the Circus Circus, which was always advertised as a family hotel, yet its casino revenue has never suffered. This gives us the final reason as to why Vegas is changing – to equally enjoy the benefits of both worlds.