by The M&C Staff | April 01, 2013

The United States gaming industry appears to be recovering overall, post-recession, although the rate of recovery varies rather significantly among locations. The following pages provide real-world insight into that fact, through the quantity and scope of the developments happening in each city, state or reservation.

National gross gaming revenues grew by 3 percent in 2011, according to the American Gaming Association, to $35.64 billion. (The organization's 2012 figures will be released in May.) Revenue skyrocketed in 2011 in states such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, which are relative newcomers to the gaming world, while established gaming capitals like Las Vegas showed more modest gains.

Revenue growth at Native American casinos was particularly strong, according to Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report, with levels now exceeding pre-recession highs. Native American casinos generated about 44 percent of all U.S. casino revenue in 2011, according to the report. But like the commercial casino market, the success was spotty. Revenue "did not grow everywhere or grow uniformly across the country," noted economist Alan Meister, the report's author. Revenue was up in nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Native American casinos and three-quarters of Native American gaming states. Read on for updates on gaming venues that might host your upcoming events.

Las VegasLas Vegas welcomed a record 39.7 million visitors in 2012, and the city is preparing for that annual statistic to grow. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority unveiled an ambitious plan in late February for a Global Business District, a long-term, multiphase project that calls for the Las Vegas Convention Center to expand and become the hub of a surrounding business district. Specific upgrades to the convention center include additional exhibit space, meeting rooms and general session space; an improved technology infrastructure; new F&B venues, and a grand concourse connector with more lobby space. More public spaces outside the venue will help to transform the center into more of a business-district campus.

The LVCVA also aims to step up marketing efforts around the convention center's World Trade Center designation, drawing a bigger international crowd in the process. The final part of the plan will improve traffic flow in the neighborhood. The LVCVA has earmarked about $150 million for the first phase of development, which will include improvement to the current convention center space, land acquisition and budget development, to take place over the next two years.

Private investment in the city also is on the rise. Last month, MGM Resorts International and sports and entertainment company AEG announced plans to jointly develop a 20,000-seat arena on the Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo. The venue would be part of a development that includes shops, restaurants and entertainment outlets. At press time, the developers were awaiting the approvals needed to proceed.

On the long-neglected North Strip, hospitality company SBE broke ground in late February on the SLS Hotel & Casino, an adaptive reuse of the former Sahara Hotel and Casino. The 1,600-room property, a collaboration among SBE's Sam Nazarain, designer Philippe Starck and chef José Andrés, should debut in the fall of 2014.

Also on the North Strip, Genting Group acquired the unfinished Echelon casino resort site from Boyd Gaming Corp. last month for $350 million. The $4.8 billion Echelon project was shelved in 2008, and the site remained unfinished. Now, the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based Genting intends to turn it into the 3,500-room Resorts World Las Vegas. The $2 billion development will include about 500,000 square feet of meeting space, a 175,000-square-foot casino and 250,000 square feet of retail space.

In late February, Caesars Entertainment reversed its long-standing and much-publicized "no resort fees" policy (see "Resort Fees"), thus joining the ranks of most other area hotel operators. Resort fees of $10 to $25 per night were instituted at Caesars Las Vegas properties last month, although, at least for the time being, contracted meetings and events at Caesars properties are exempt from such fees.

Construction continues on Caesars' $550 million Linq project, a Center-Strip open-air retail, dining and entertainment district to be anchored by the world's tallest observation wheel, the 550-foot High Roller. Retail and restaurant tenants should be open by the end of this year. The High Roller, slated to open in early 2014, will have 28 cabins, each accommodating up to 40 people and available to reserve in any capacity, including group buyouts. A building adjacent to the wheel will add 2,500 square feet of meeting space.

The newest hotel to open is the world's first Nobu Hotel & Restaurant, a 181-room boutique property in Caesars Palace. Guests experience luxury accommodations, as well as the opportunity to order room service from, or dine in, the largest Nobu Restaurant to date.

Pool table at the bellagioThe 3,933-room Bellagio recently finished remodeling all 928 rooms in its Spa Tower. The $40 million, six-month project also produced three new Executive Parlor Suites, each of which spans 2,500 square feet and features a billiards lounge and a high-tech home theater.

The Tropicana Las Vegas, which earlier this year officially became the Tropicana Las Vegas–a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, reopened its 1,045-seat Tropicana Theater in February, following a two-and-a-half-month overhaul. The redesigned theater now has U-shaped booths and cocktail tables in a VIP area near the stage. -- MICHAEL J. SHAPIRO