The casino gambling capital of the world has faced some stiff competition in recent decades. The rapid expansion of land-based casinos across the country has cut into market share. More recently, the expansion of real money online casino gambling sites have also cut into the pie.
Visitors have the glitzy Strip and old-school Vegas on Fremont Street downtown to choose from
Despite all the added competition, there is something about Las Vegas that cannot be duplicated. Visitors have the glitzy Strip and old-school Vegas on Fremont Street downtown to choose from. All said and done, there is only one adult playground in the country decadent enough to be called Sin City.
This gambling town should end this year rather strong. Key indicators remain strong but the national picture raises concerns.
Heading in the new decade, a UNLV economics professor predicted that the national economy will continue to lose steam. He also stated that this will put downward pressure on the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality industry. This is despite the fact that a record number of passengers are traveling through McCarran International Airport.
Dr. Stephen Miller is the director for the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV. He also cited increased resort fees and parking fees as a possible deterrent to future growth. Car traffic in and out of California has declined. Yet, weekend hotel occupancy has remained tight at 95 percent.
He recently spoke at M Resort in Henderson in an annual economic forecasting seminar. Despite some eminent concerns, Dr. Miller did say that the overall Las Vegas economy remains in a good position. This was compared to the nation as a whole. Strong retail sales were highlighted. The annual growth rate through September was plus 6.7 percent. He also cited a population growth rate of plus two percent during the next two years.
One of his other concerns was a more diversified economy in Northern Nevada. This would give this area of the state a better chance to withstand a new recession. Southern Nevada, particularly Las Vegas remains heavily tied to the casino and entertainment industry. This is seen as a potential liability in light of a national recession.
Dr. Miller is not predicting a recession in 2020 or 2021 but this notion is supported by select national economists. His growth projection is a modest 1.7 percent for that same time frame. This compares to 2.9 percent in 2018 and a projected two percent for this year.
Las Vegas should finish the year on a strong note with higher visitor volume. His projections for 2020 are up just 0.3 percent. He forecasts a 0.4 percent decline in 2021.
The numbers for hotel occupancy will also be up this year. A projected plus 0.9 percent for the Strip. The downtown area should be up 1.1 percent. The projection moves to flat for both areas in 2020. That could change in 2021 with an increase in total hotel rooms. Gross gaming revenue is projected to be flat over the next two years. Furthermore, this follows a gain of 1.3 percent in 2019.