The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has released its 2022 Visitor Profile Study. The report shows that the city’s tourism industry has been rebounding well from the effects of COVID-19 and the resulting interruption to retail gambling. Some metrics, like international visitation, remain well below 2019 levels. Overall, however, the 2022 numbers show positive trends for the future of the Nevada casino and tourism industries.
38.8 million people visited Las Vegas in 2022, representing a year-over-year increase of 20.5%. Even so, this volume of tourists remains below the all-time high of 42.9 million visitors in 2016. Since the pandemic, international tourism has been much lower. Travelers from abroad accounted for 9% of visitors, nearly triple the number in 2021. By contrast, however, foreign tourists made up almost 20% of those record crowds in 2016.
The data also provides some insight into the behavior of people visiting Las Vegas. Significant differences exist between the pre-pandemic Las Vegas tourist crowd and those flocking to the city now.
The average visitor now spends less time gambling yet does so on a bigger budget. Demographics are likewise changing, including a drop in the average age of the average visitor.
Demographic Shifts are Good News for Las Vegas
The LVCVA report highlights several positive trends in Las Vegas tourism. Compared to previous years, those traveling to the city in 2022 were, on average:
- More diverse
- Better educated
The change in the age of visitors was one of the starkest differences. The average age has dropped by almost six years in half as much time:
- 2019: 46.2 years old
- 2020: No data due to pandemic
- 2021: 43.2 years old
- 2023: 40.7 years old
The report also shows that over 60% of all visitors were Millennials and Generation Z, 73% of whom were first-time visitors. The fastest-growing age bracket was 30 to 39, which encompasses most Millennials. (Defined as those born between 1981 and 1996, that generation now ranges from 27 to 42.)
People in their 30s comprised 30% of all visitors in 2022, up from 21-23% in the years before the pandemic.
How to get these younger visitors interested in casino games has been a hot topic in the gambling industry for many years. Although these younger age groups gambled slightly less than Gen X and Baby Boomer visitors, they spent more on hotels, attractions, and shows.
Furthermore, the percentage of retirees coming to Vegas has dropped significantly, accounting for only 8% of all visitors in 2022, compared to 21% in 2019.
Other demographic statistics are also changing. More women than men came to the city for the first time in years, and 38% of all visitors were from minority groups. That’s a significant increase from the 22% minority visitors in 2019.
The report points out that higher income and education level among visitors correlates with more spending power, which is a critical factor for the industry.
While People Gambled Less Time, They Spent More Money
In 2022, only 6% of Las Vegas visitors said gambling was their main reason for coming, the lowest figure since 2017. Even so, 75% of visitors gambled while in town, consistent with most years since 2017.
From 2021 to 2022, the average time per day visitors spent gambling dropped from 3 hours to 2.6. However, this is only a partial reversal of a longer-term increase. In 2017, the average visitor gambled for only 1.6 hours per day.
The average amount spent by gamblers has been increasing more consistently. In 2022, the average gambling budget was $761, a 6% increase from 2021 and a 28.8% increase from 2019. Las Vegas gamblers were also more selective in 2022. They visited an average of 4.3 casinos and gambled at 2.2 of them. In 2021, they visited 5.7 on average and gambled at 3.2 of them.
Aside from spending, another encouraging trend for casinos was the increased use of casino rates by hotel visitors, which nearly tripled to 15% in 2022.
Despite the decreased gambling time, the increased spending meant record revenue for casinos. Strip casinos reported an all-time high of $8.29 billion in winnings, beating the previous record of $7.1 billion in 2021. It was also a record state-wide. All Nevada casinos reported winnings of $14.8 billion in 2022, up 23% from 2019.
With More Events And Changes In Casino Policies, 2023 Could Be Even Better
This year has the potential to surpass the results from 2022. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Reid International Airport just recorded its highest-ever number of passengers for the month of February.
On one side, Las Vegas anticipates an increase in international visitors. The US lowered requirements for entry, while many Asian countries still had some restrictions last year. The city is also set to host more events, attracting new and returning visitors.
The first-ever Formula 1 race in Las Vegas will occur on the Strip in November. The sport has rapidly gained popularity in the US, and the hype and hotel prices reflect that. Most hotels have already sold out for the race weekend. Rooms are booked at premium prices, and packages reach five figures.
Also, cycling enthusiasts and fans of the renowned Tour de France will have the chance to watch or participate in L’Etape Las Vegas, a smaller-scale version of the famous race. Scheduled for May, the L’Etape Las Vegas is expected to draw a large crowd. That includes many first-time visitors to the city.
Furthermore, entertainment lovers can eagerly await the grand opening of the MSG Sphere. Initially planned to open in 2021, the state-of-the-art venue faced significant setbacks and budget overruns. It is now slated to open in September, featuring a U2 concert as its inaugural event.
Casinos Must Adapt To Meet Younger Customers’ Needs
But all these events are not necessarily bringing people to the casinos. That’s why it’s unsurprising to see changes, including banning smoking, something once unthinkable. Multiple casinos now offer smoke-free areas to attract the younger generation of visitors, who are willing to spend more but see smoking unfavorably.
Notably, live slot streamer Brian Christopher joined the anti-smoking movement. He joined forces with the Plaza Hotel & Casino to provide a substantial smoke-free gaming area in downtown Las Vegas. On the Strip, MGM Grand and the Mirage have also introduced non-smoking sections, while Park MGM is entirely smoke-free. But that is just one step. To increase visitor growth and casino spending in the future, Vegas casinos must shift their priorities towards new generations of customers.