As the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues, older gamblers, often with more money and time than younger visitors, gradually are returning to Las Vegas, industry experts say.
Lorenzo Fertitta, vice chairman of Red Rock Resorts board, said during a recent earnings call that this demographic is “anxious to come back,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“They seem to be in pretty good shape from a financial standpoint because they just haven’t been spending their money,” Fertitta said. “There’s a lot of disposable income there.”
When it comes to spending money on gambling, baby boomers outdo millennials, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Baby boomers are those born between 1946 and 1964.
On average, baby boomers budget $838.20 on gambling for each trip, while millennials set $350.47 aside for that purpose, the newspaper reported. Baby boomers also spend more on food and drink, transportation, shopping, and sightseeing.
Gaming consultant Debi Nutton indicated that some older people are at a point in life where they can enjoy these things.
“Your kids are off to college. You’ve established yourself in your career,” she told the newspaper. “They have more discretionary income.”
Millions Getting Vaccinated
Tourism officials hope that baby boomers are feeling more at ease about traveling now that the vaccination rollout is in full swing.
Nationwide, 53.5 percent of Americans age 65 and older are fully vaccinated, the newspaper reported. Overall, at least 22 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated. More than 4 million Americans recently were vaccinated in one day, according to CNN.
Red Rock Resorts CEO Frank Fertitta III said in February that the “65-year-plus demographic has been fairly shy” about returning to the casino. However, that could change with vaccinations, he said.
“If the vaccine has continued ramp-up and rollout, we are cautiously optimistic that we’re starting to see the 65-plus demographic slowly return back to our facility,” he said.
Josh Swissman, a gaming consultant with The Strategy Organization, told the newspaper that as more older patrons are vaccinated and feel comfortable leaving their houses, “That, for sure, means they’ll start to step out and go back to their favorite casinos again.”
Guest Rooms Opening Up Again
Gaming experts also anticipate better hotel occupancy rates during the slow midweek days as baby boomers begin traveling again. Some in that demographic are seen as less bound by work and other time-consuming obligations.
They’re retired,” said Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at UNLV. “They have that flexibility to travel midweek.”
Without conventions and special events during the pandemic, midweek hotel occupancy in Las Vegas has been in a slump. This has prompted several hotel-casinos to close their guest rooms during the middle of the week.
In recent weeks, however, some resorts have begun to accept midweek hotel reservations again, as optimism about increased visitor volume takes hold. These include the Palazzo at the Venetian on the Strip and the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino just west of the Strip.
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