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Is the Casino Industry Creating the Non-Gamer?

Casino Fees

ver the past few years it has often been heard at casino conferences and written in magazine articles by so-called experts, "the younger generation doesn't gamble," or "we need skill based games to attract the younger generation," or "slot machines and table games are not interesting to the younger generation."


Over the past few years, the perception seems as though the casino industry and Las Vegas has been creating the non-gamer. It is not that the younger generation is not interested in slot machines or table games, or that skill based games are more appealing.  It is that by the time a younger visitor with a budget gets done paying for fees and higher costs associated with their visit, they don't have it in their budget to gamble.


Here is an example and one of the many experiences like it over the past couple of years.  My cousin and her husband, came to Las Vegas for a 4 day 3 night getaway. They are in their early twenties and heard that Las Vegas would be a nice, affordable vacation as they never had been. They were meeting another couple that were friends from Oklahoma.

I offered to pick them up at the airport to avoid the $28 taxi ride (not including tip) to the hotel. They were staying at Hilton Grand Vacations behind Planet Hollywood.  They found a discounted rate if they listened to a sales pitch on time shares during their stay (For anyone that has not sat through a time share sales pitch in Las Vegas, your mind and spirit literally dies for the 2 hours you are in the presentation). But the rate was within their budget.


I parked and walked in with them to get checked in.  Upon checking in they were informed of the notorious "resort fee" of $35 per night.  They did not see it in the fine print of their reservation.  They were also told it would cover their parking fees, which they didn't drive.  Immediately $105 that was not in the budget.  Even with me being local, I couldn't help them.  Depending on which hotel in Las Vegas, some hotels will give locals discounts on the resort fees, but a majority don't. 


They dropped their bags and asked the front desk for an affordable place to eat dinner.  The front desk told them the buffet at Planet Hollywood was the closest inexpensive place to eat.  They had budgeted $45 for dinner (just a quick grab style dinner, nothing fancy).  The buffet was the cheapest place to eat in the area at $62 for two people.  An additional $20 not in the budget.  Now you may say, they didn't budget correctly.  But it wasn't too long ago, most buffets in Las Vegas were an average $20 per person.  Now there are places like Caesars that are $75 per person for a buffet!


After dinner, they wanted to stop for drinks and were looking for something reasonable (to me that is an oxymoron when you are on the Strip).  We walked over to the Linq promenade and stopped at Brooklyn Bowl.  A Captain Morgan and Coke was $13 and a regular bottle of domestic beer was $7.  Not as pricey as other places, but still a little steep for a couple on a budget.


It was a Thursday night, and they were told it was ladies night at Drai's Nightclub at Cromwell.  They were meeting some friends there that were in town as well.  We went over to the Cromwell and to the entrance of Drai's.  Being ladies night, my cousin showed her ID and was told to come on in.  Her husband showed his ID and was then informed that it would be a $75 cover!  No drink specials, no perks - $75 to enter the club!  And that was normal cover charge!  He turned around and told his wife to have a good time with her friend and he would be on the casino floor waiting.


He didn't pay the cover as he was hoping to save some money to gamble on while they were in town.  He really wanted to play Blackjack while they were in town.  My cousin and her friend came out about 30 minutes later, as she realized how expensive drinks were at $22 on an 8 oz. vodka soda and was not going to spend any more money that evening.


The next day they decided to do some sightseeing up and down the strip and possibly take a drive out to Red Rock.  They rented a car at $35 for the day.  Very reasonable for a little compact vehicle to get around for the day.  That evening, they took the car to Mandalay Bay to go to SkyFall to see the view of the strip.  SkyFall prices for drinks is a little pricey, as you are paying for the view.  They had budgeted $35 for a stop there.  A bottle of beer and a vodka soda totaled $31 without tip.  As they were leaving, they had to pay for parking. It was $21 for 3 hours for being inside Mandalay Bay.  They did not budget for parking fees. 


Needless to say, with the little amount of money left to gamble, they couldn't find any low limit blackjack tables on the strip to play.  I am sure there are younger couples around my cousins ages that come to the casinos and maybe have a better budget so the fees are not a shock and the higher prices for food and beverage don't affect their gambling budget. 


I believe that the casinos could save a lot of money they are spending on research trying to research and figure out ways to drive the younger generation of players into the casino by just looking at how prices and fees are affecting the traffic on the casino floor.


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