One of the great things about Las Vegas is that it is always changing. Sin City has truly evolved from only being a gambling destination. Non-gaming revenue has been greater than gambling revenue on the Vegas Strip since 1999.
People visiting Las Vegas have been spending more money on food, beverage, hotel rooms, etc. than on casino games for years. This isn’t exactly news and Las Vegas continues to change its business model to attract visitors seeking a variety of experiences.
Additionally, gamblers in just about every region of the country now live within driving distance of a casino. While they serve one need for gamblers, they don’t always offer everything a casino guest could want. Las Vegas casinos have big shows and residencies, the finest dining in the country, luxurious spas, and great mixologists for the drinkers.
But not everyone who visits Las Vegas comes for fun. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), 8% of visitors to Las Vegas last year were in town for a convention or meeting. These guests have a different purpose and spend money differently.
Only 41% of convention visitors gamble when visiting Las Vegas. Las Vegas is improving convention facilities at a rapid pace to draw more of these visitors because they bring greater revenue for the non-gaming areas in Las Vegas Casinos.
The same report from the LVCVA shows that leisure travelers spend $272.68 on food and drink while convention guests spend $427.07 drinking and dining. Similarly, nearly 90% of convention guests pay a negotiated full convention rate. That’s quite a difference from leisure travelers. Only about two-thirds of vacationers pay regular room rates.
Las Vegas will continue to be a great place to visit for work and play. Developments in 2020 will help ensure that stays the case with new casinos, renovated properties and better convention facilities. Oh yeah, people live in Las Vegas and there’s a little something coming to town that should become a local favorite.
1. Say hello to the Las Vegas Raiders
The Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. The team brings along more than just eight regular-season home games to Las Vegas. This move is much more significant.
One of the keys to having the Raiders move to Las Vegas was building a new state-of-the-art football stadium near the Vegas Strip. The Raiders and Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee have teamed up to build Allegiant Stadium.
This 65,000 seat venue will be home more than just Raiders home games. The venue will also host a variety of sports and non-sports events thanks to a facilities management deal with AEG Worldwide. The company says they should have no problem filling the stadium for 46 events.
Allegiant Stadium will also become the home of UNLV football and the Pac 12 football championship game for the next two years. The Runnin’ Rebels previously played home games at Boyd Stadium. As the stadium nears completion in the summer of 2020, expect to hear announcements for concerts and other events after the newest venue in Las Vegas opens.
After the Raiders announced the move to Las Vegas, the NFL selected Las Vegas to host the NFL Draft. The event will take place in Las Vegas from April 23-25, 2020. Draft headquarters will be at the new Caesars Forum convention center behind Harrah’s. The location isn’t much of a surprise as the Caesars is the NFL’s first casino partner.
While much of the activity surrounding the Raiders will take place on or near the Vegas Strip, the team will actually touch the local market with its headquarters in Henderson. The Las Vegas Raiders will become a major part of the landscape for years to come.
2. Everything at Circa Resort & Casino
Casino developer Derek Stevens introduced his latest casino project, Circa Resort & Casino, in January of 2019. Stevens currently owns and operates The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate casinos. Circa will be his third downtown Las Vegas property when it opens in December 2020 in downtown Las Vegas.
Construction on Circa is bucking trends in Las Vegas in many ways. The casino is on budget and construction appears to be on schedule to open before the year is over. (Unfortunately, not every Las Vegas casino construction has stayed on time and on budget: Resorts World Las Vegas broke ground in 1995 and has been pushed back multiple times. It’s now slated to open in the summer of 2021.)
Another difference between Circa and other “new” Las Vegas casinos is that this is new construction. Park MGM, the newest casino in Las Vegas, is an update of an old casino named Monte Carlo. Circa will be the first new casino build in downtown Las Vegas since 1980.
The plans for Circa are massive. There will be 1.25 million square feet of amenities including:
- A three-level sportsbook with the world’s sportsbook video screen and broadcast studios
- Multilevel pool deck amphitheater with six pools that will be open all year round
- A rejuvenating Spa
- Casino on two floors
- 777 hotel rooms and suites
- Numerous restaurants
Circa Resort & Casino will be the tallest building north of the Vegas Strip. The property will be unlike any other in downtown Las Vegas. The pool and sportsbook will make the property a destination instead of a property visited just because it’s in a mall of casinos.
Stevens does a great job of combining classic Las Vegas service with modern amenities. Circa should be the pinnacle of this experience with great dining, gambling, drinking, a spa, and hotel rooms.
3. Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
The Hard Rock will close after the Super Bowl to make way for new casino and hotel operators in Las Vegas. Unlike other recent casino renovations at Park MGM and Palms, the property won’t be open during 10 months of construction. Once the renovation is complete in December 2020, the property will reopen as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Virgin will operate the hotel while Mohegan Gaming will operate the casino. These two companies bring a fresh look to Las Vegas. Virgin Hotels famously doesn’t attach fees to its rooms and could open a hotel in Las Vegas without parking and resort fees.
In addition, its hotels in Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas offer complimentary WiFi. This would be a welcome addition to Las Vegas which has gotten a little fee happy in recent years.
Mohegan Gaming operates casinos all over the world, except Las Vegas. Virgin will be its first Las Vegas casino. The company offers fair gaming rules at its properties. Mohegan also has a different sportsbook partner than existing Las Vegas casinos.
The new property will also introduce a new casino loyalty club: Mohegan’s Momentum. The hotel will be a part of the Virgin Hotels loyalty club called “The Know.” Finally, the hotel will be part of the Hilton Curio collection. There will be many ways to earn and use rewards at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas should bring a new way of operating a casino-resort to Sin City. The potential of a property opening with no fees, fair gaming, multiple loyalty/rewards partners, new food and beverage partners should be exciting for those looking for a different experience
4. A new Circus Circus
MGM Resorts announced the sale of Circus Circus to Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin in October. The sale is complete and changes are already underway.
Since MGM Resorts no longer owns the property, they won’t be operating the sportsbook. William Hill is operating the sportsbook at Circus Circus. After the Super Bowl, they will renovate the sportsbook by updating the viewing screens, seating, and more in time for the first weekend of March Madness.
The main casino and Slots-A-Fun will be renovated but changes are already underway. Ruffin has already introduced improved gaming conditions that Treasure Island guests might be familiar with. There are now $10 3:2 blackjack games and craps odds have been upgraded to 3x-4x-5x from 2x. Circus Circus also removed MGM’s triple zero roulette game.
Major changes coming to Circus Circus include the closure of the only RV Park on the Vegas Strip. In its place, Ruffin plans to add a massive pool complex similar to Mandalay Bay Beach. He’s also planning on adding a new 2,000 seat theater to Circus Circus. This theater could be home to a new Cirque du Soleil show.
MGM also sold Ruffin 35 acres of land that most recently the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. Ruffin plans on developing this land with a partner. He previously said a family entertainment center could be built here.
The future is bright for Circus Circus as Ruffin plans to renovate the casino floor but not the rooms. This will keep room prices down as the property looks to find new customers. The rooms will be upgraded in the future but the goal is to keep Circus Circus an affordable family destination in Las Vegas.
5. Las Vegas convention expansions
As noted earlier, those visiting Las Vegas for conventions and meetings tend to spend more money on food, beverage, and hotel rooms than those visiting on vacation. It’s no surprise that the casino-resort operators are looking to attract more of these customers.
In 2018, MGM Resorts was ahead of the curve by expanding or improving many of its convention facilities. Not only is Las Vegas expanding its convention center but two casino operators are opening new facilities.
Wynn Resorts canceled its massive Paradise Park expansion in 2018. However, they kept one part of the plan. Instead of offering new amenities to a different customer, Wynn Las Vegas will continue to focus on its high-end guests. It will open a brand new convention and meeting space in February 2020.
Likewise, Caesars Entertainment is wrapping construction on the Caesars Forum as the new year begins. The new convention center is located behind Harrah’s and is a short walk to The Linq, Flamingo, and Caesars Palace. The increase in conventions should bring more convention customers to Caesars’ properties.
The expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center is creating the Convention Center District. The massive 1.4 million square foot phase of the expansion will be open by the Consumer Electronics Show in 2021. The footprint is so big that they’re building an underground people mover to transport convention guests around the huge convention space.