After a rough period, key gaming industry metrics are trending
upward. Visitor numbers in Las Vegas are surging, and casino companies
see reasons for optimism. MGM Resorts International, for one, enjoyed a
10 percent jump in domestic revenue per available room in the fourth
quarter of 2011 over the same period in 2010, and a 13 percent RevPAR
rise at its Las Vegas Strip properties.
What's more, group
business is coming back: According to an MGM earnings call early this
year, such bookings are "exceptionally strong" for the next two years,
both in terms of rate and room nights. Meanwhile, the company is
developing a casino in Massachusetts and has 10 properties either in
development or operating in Asia.
Similar optimism extends
throughout the gaming industry, with competition heating up in the
mid-Atlantic region and many developments occurring elsewhere. In the
following pages, M&C editors provide regional updates on gaming destinations and venues throughout the United States.
Vegas tourism is in a steady recovery, and we believe the trend will
continue in 2012," noted Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
president and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter in February. His optimism was fueled
by the 38.9 million visitors received by the city in 2011, the
second-highest total ever experienced by the gaming oasis. Ralenkotter
went on to project 40 million visitors for 2012, a figure that would
shatter 2007's record of 39.2 million.
Meeting planners were
partially to thank for the surge. Las Vegas played host to more than
19,000 meetings and conventions last year -- 5.7 percent more events
than in 2010. The increased volume helped to boost the average daily
room rate by 10.7 percent in 2011 to about $105, just slightly more than
the national average.
Vegas players are keeping busy. Caesars
Entertainment recently began construction on The Linq, a $550 million
urban entertainment district that will span 200,000 square feet between
Harrah's and the Imperial Palace. The retail, F&B and entertainment
development will include the Las Vegas High Roller, a 550-foot-high
observation wheel that offers Strip views through 28 transparent-sphere
cabins. Each cabin will hold 40 people and will be available for groups.
But that isn't the only wheel rolling out: Down the street, across from
Mandalay Bay, SkyVue is building a 500-foot-high wheel of its own, with
32 gondolas, each holding 24. Both attractions are set to debut in
At Caesars Palace, the 668-room Octavius Tower
opened in January. The new luxury digs bring the resort's total room
count to 3,960 and marks the completion of Caesars' $860 million
Meanwhile, the Strip is replete with
renovations of existing properties. The 3,933-room Bellagio wrapped up a
six-month, $70 million redesign in January. All 2,568 rooms in the
hotel's main tower have been refreshed. The 5,044-room MGM Grand kicked
off a $160 million renovation last fall, to be completed by this
September. All 4,212 rooms in its main tower are being made over with new design features.
– Michael J. Shapiro