Visitation to Las Vegas was down in July, marking the second monthly decline this year.
Total visitor volume for July was down 0.8 percent from the same month in 2011, according to the monthly Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority count. April’s decline of 0.9 percent broke the more than two-year streak of consecutive month-to-month gains.
In all, 3.44 million tourists came to Las Vegas in July, down from July 2011’s 3.47 million total. Year to date, 23.37 million people have visited the city, up 1.9 percent from the same point in 2011.
“We continue to be optimistic about the visitation,” said Scott Russell, senior manager of research for the travel authority. “Year-to-date, it’s up just under 2 percent, and that’s a good number. We continue to work toward our goal of 40 million this year.”
Union Gaming analysts said the timing of the July Fourth holiday, which was midweek this year, likely had a negative impact.
July’s citywide hotel and motel occupancy combined decreased to 87.2 percent from 88.3 percent in 2011, and year-to-date it declined slightly to 85.2 percent from 2011’s 85.3 percent.
July’s average daily room rate was down 2.2 percent to $97.12 from $99.30 in 2011. Year-to-date, the average daily rate rose 3.4 percent from $104.59 in 2011 to $108.13 in 2012.
Convention attendance in July was down 2.8 percent in prior-year comparisons to 255,961 from 263,441 in 2011, due in part to the American Sport Fishing Association’s rotation out of the destination this year. The show brought in 7,200 attendees in 2011. Total conventions and meetings held were down a whopping 10.1 percent to 1,316 from 1,464.
July revenue hits $1 billion on strength of baccarat
Nevada recorded its second $1 billion gaming revenue month of 2012 during July — the first time in four years the state has seen multiple billion-dollar months — due in large part to a near-record performance in baccarat play.
Nevada casinos collected $1.005 billion from customers during July, according to figures released Monday by the Gaming Control Board.
Revenues increased almost 17 percent from the $860.1 million collected in July 2011.
On the Strip, gaming revenues jumped 27.5 percent to almost $597.5 million, compared to $468.5 million in July 2011.
Baccarat was the driving force behind the revenue increase. Casinos collected $189.9 million from gamblers, a jump of 111.8 percent from a year ago. Gamblers wagered $1.2 billion on baccarat during the month, a 28.9 percent increase from a year ago.
The hold percentage for baccarat — the amount of money casinos collected compared to what was wagered — was 16.03 percent. In July 2011, the baccarat hold percentage was 9.76 percent. The average 12-month baccarat hold percentage is roughly 12 percent.
The baccarat revenue total was the third highest in state history and the highest ever for July.
Senators split over online poker bill
A rift between Nevada’s senators has widened over a high-stakes bill that would clear the way for Nevada casinos to offer legal online poker to gamblers nationwide.
The split between Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller elevates the already steep odds that Congress could pass a lucrative yet controversial gaming bill in the waning days of this year’s session.
Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, has readied an online poker bill and has been seeking a way to get it passed, even as Senate officials acknowledge it is 15 votes or so short of the necessary majority.
Reid had set a deadline of Monday to see whether enough votes could be gathered for the bill to move in the less than three weeks remaining before Congress recesses for the November elections. It is expected to return for a lame-duck session after Election Day.
In a letter Monday evening, Heller, a Republican, objected to the deadline, saying that “this was not a strategy we discussed.” He said it would be best for the Senate to step back and let the House of Representatives act first on Web poker.
“Any change in this strategy jeopardizes the passage of this issue in both chambers,” Heller said in the letter, adding he and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., “have been working hard on this issue.”
A Reid spokeswoman said Heller’s letter was an attempt “to run for cover” on Web poker. House bills on Internet poker have been stalled since late last year.
Caesars Palace revives Bacchanal name in buffet
Meet the new Bacchanal. It’s not the same as the old Bacchanal.
If you’ve been around Las Vegas for a while, either as a resident or a visitor, you might remember Bacchanal at Caesars Palace, which closed in 2000.
It was an expansive room lined with classic columns and centered with a reflecting pool complete with nymph fountain, water flowing from her urn. The menu — printed as a parchment scroll — described it as “the most sumptuous of Roman dining experiences,” and indeed it was, six courses (plus “intermezzo”) accompanied by wines, with “goddesses” on hand to massage the shoulders of and feed grapes to the guests.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen in the new one.
But the Bacchanal Buffet that opened the past week is designed as an over-the-top experience to evoke memories both of the old Bacchanal and the word itself.
Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner said the name was resurrected because guests missed the old spot, and because “the word ‘bacchanal’ means ‘a feast of food and wine’ and that’s literally what you’re going to get in the new Bacchanal Buffet.”
Analyst: Sands Corp. unlikely to finish Spain project
Chances are “low” that Las Vegas Sands Corp. will complete a $22 billion gaming complex in Madrid, a gaming analyst says.
The casino operator has selected Madrid over Barcelona, Spain, as the location of its planned “Eurovegas,” which could include 12 hotels and six casinos.
Las Vegas Sands officials said the process was still in the early phases. The company said it would provide 25 percent to 35 percent of equity needed to build.
That fact, said Nomura Securities gaming analyst Harry Curtis, jeopardizes the development long before a shovel is even in the ground.
“As a practical matter, securing adequate financing is Las Vegas Sands’ major hurdle,” Curtis told investors Monday, adding that the company’s “likelihood of completing a multi-billion project remains low.”