As Pro Sports Change Las Vegas, So Must Your Casino Operations

The key for companies and brands looking to last is their ability to adapt. Las Vegas casinos prove that time and again, and they’ll have another chance to evolve over the next few years, as pro sports redefine the Vegas entertainment experience.

Change is inevitable, but not everyone has the instinct to embrace it. The downfall of hundreds of businesses — even entire industries — can be pinpointed to their inability to recognize shifting trends and demographics.

And then there’s Las Vegas. The tourist destination built on gambling in the 1930s has been forced to reinvent itself multiple times. Originally marketed as Sin City because of its tolerance for many forms of adult entertainment, Las Vegas eventually opened itself up to families, providing more age-appropriate activities. Later, as more casinos began popping up all over the country, Vegas introduced top-notch restaurants and nightclubs, pivoting away from only gaming and more toward an entertainment destination.

(In contrast, look to Atlantic City for an example of a market that failed to adapt fast enough.)

Today, there’s another monumental shift underway in Las Vegas. In 2017, the NFL approved a move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, and the first puck dropped for the NHL’s Golden Knights. The WNBA announced a team relocating from San Antonio will be called the Aces and play its games at Mandalay Bay. Now that T-Mobile Arena is built, I’m betting the NBA is next.

Las Vegas in Transition

I was recently asked by CDC Gaming Reports how professional sports will change the Las Vegas market. Ramifications are huge, in my opinion. Imagine a night out on the Las Vegas Strip that consists of dinner and drinks from a world-famous chef, a basketball game where you can wager live from your seat, and then a night of dancing at the hottest club in the U.S.

Professional sports will cast Las Vegas’s visitor net even wider. Fans of visiting teams that typically don’t travel with their team might do so if it means a trip to Vegas. With pro sports, Las Vegas has created a certain type of experience that isn’t found anywhere else.

Even people who don’t spend their time in front of a slot machine or at a card table will have plenty of options for entertainment. Instead of the whole share of wallet going to gaming, people are now more willing to spend on hotel rooms, food, shows, clubs and now professional sports.

Implications for the Entire Gaming Industry

As you can imagine, consumer spending moving away from the casino floor and more toward other types of entertainment will have further impact on your casino. Just like Las Vegas, it’s time for casinos to reinvent themselves. Although changes have been underway for the better part of a decade, many casinos are still over-reliant on gaming profits.

The obvious example is hotel rooms. Once considered simply dormitories for gamblers and given away to most everyone who dumped some money into a machine, hotel rooms are now valuable assets for casinos to attract guests.

This requires a culture change throughout your casino operations. No longer should you be designating “blocks” of rooms for your casino hosts to give away.

Related Video: The Rise of Non-Gaming Revenue in the Casino Industry

Hotel rooms are now part of your experience. Aim for fewer comps moving forward, and make reinvestment decisions based on guests’ total spend rather than how much they gambled. Wouldn’t a couple celebrating their anniversary with a $500 dinner and $500 worth of spa services be rewarded as much as or more than someone who dropped $500 on the casino floor?

Casino Revenue Strategy for an Evolving Guest

Forward-thinking operators must diversify their non-gaming amenities and take a casino Revenue Strategy approach aimed at maximizing total-resort profitability.

Here are tips on how to get started:

  • Frequently engage with guests, asking them what amenities are important to them.
  • Ensure guests get a player’s club card, whether they gamble or not, and use that data to shape your reinvestment strategy and bring them back.
  • Collect data about your guests off-property as well, through social media or third-party analytics sources.
  • Wow guests with a higher level of quality in your amenities and service.

Once you know what is drawing guests to your property, you can aggregate that data and offer a custom, personalized offering.

Live sports will bring in even more new consumers to Las Vegas and gives casino operators another hook to get people to come back. For the moment, it’s  something that can’t be replicated at local, regional or tribal casinos — but the rest of the gaming industry should pay attention to Vegas casinos’ next moves. If the courts legalize sports wagering nationwide, it’s game on.

The next opportunity to grow revenue is a lay-up. Take advantage by investing more into tailoring the guest experience to include sports, whether it’s viewing or gambling.


Marco Benvenuti, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer and Co-Founder

As co-founder and chief marketing and strategy officer for Duetto, Marco guides product vision, direction and implementation. Prior to Duetto, he was Executive Director at Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas, where he founded and managed the Enterprise Strategy Group. Marco was also recently named the Entrepreneur in Residence at Cornell University’s School of Hospitality Administration, and can be seen speaking or lecturing at industry events and hotel schools worldwide.

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