Is Las Vegas Spearheading Big Casino Industry Changes? 5 Things To Know

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A large part of Las Vegas‘ appeal is that it’s always changing. Casinos want to keep their attractions and offerings constantly fresh, alluring and exciting so every trip is a bit of a new experience.

Unfortunately, new fees and new gaming rules can be a bit confusing and frustrating for visitors that don’t keep up with Sin City happenings on a regular basis.

The Las Vegas Strip’s two casino giants

The majority of the casinos and hotels on the Vegas Strip are operated by either Caesars Entertainment or MGM Resorts International. The latter operates 10 casinos and 14 hotels on the Vegas Strip:

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • Circus Circus
  • *Delano (at Mandalay Bay)
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Grand
  • The Mirage
  • New York-New York
  • *NoMad (at Park MGM)
  • Park MGM
  • *Signature (at MGM Grand)
  • *Vdara (at Aria)

*Denotes hotel within a hotel

Caesars Entertainment operates nine casinos and 10 hotels on the Vegas Strip. Note that Rio Las Vegas is not on the Vegas Strip.

  • Bally’s
  • Caesars Palace
  • The Cromwell
  • Flamingo
  • Harrah’s
  • The Linq
  • *Nobu (at Caesars Palace)
  • Paris Las Vegas
  • Planet Hollywood

*Denotes hotel within a hotel.

Las Vegas is much larger than these two casino-resort operators. However, most visitors to Las Vegas stay on the Vegas Strip and these two corporations help shape how Las Vegas is perceived in general.

Changes are coming

Both Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are in the middle of major corporate changes. Given that their properties dominate the Strip, those changes will trickle down to visitors and be felt for years to come.

Caesars Entertainment has a new CEO and Board of Directors that will shape the way the casino operates moving forward. MGM Resorts is in the middle of a two or three-year corporate reorganization.

Some of the changes with these two major casino corporations might be minor while other changes might seem a bit more drastic. Here’s what you might notice in Las Vegas from Caesars and MGM in the next year or so.

1 – A sale could mean fewer Caesars Rewards casinos

The Board of Directors at Caesars Entertainment recently named Tony Rodio as Chief Executive Officer. He’s tasked with righting the ship for Caesars Entertainment properties around the world.

At the same time, they named a CEO the Board of Directors at Caesars Entertainment also announced a “Transaction Committee.” This group will consider ways to improve profitability for the company–including a potential sale of some properties or the entire company.

Rumors about Caesars Entertainment selling some or all of its Las Vegas properties have been floating around since last year. There’s really no telling which, if any, Caesars Entertainment casinos will be sold.

But where there’s smoke there’s often fire. Caesars Rewards (formerly Total Rewards) has approximately 50 million members. Many vacations at Caesars Las Vegas properties are booked through the loyalty club because of potential discounts.

There could be fewer options for Caesars Rewards members visiting Las Vegas in the future.

2 – Dynamic pricing at MGM Resorts properties

On their most recent earnings call, MGM Resorts said that they plan to use dynamic pricing at their Las Vegas properties.

Dynamic pricing isn’t a new or unique concept. Companies continuously adjust the prices of goods and services based on supply and demand with this pricing model. Rideshare companies, professional sports teams, and more companies use the dynamic pricing model for their goods and services.  Thanks to Uber, some travelers may know dynamic pricing under a different name: “surge pricing.”

The concept isn’t new anywhere and it’s not entirely new to Las Vegas. The Cosmopolitan has been using “holiday prices” for more than five years. During certain holidays there are higher prices for everything from drinks at the Chandelier Bar to the Wicked Spoon buffet.

MGM Resorts hasn’t been specific to the rollout of dynamic pricing, it’s already beginning, according to Vital Vegas. The new pricing should make visiting their casinos and resorts during busy times a little more expensive.

3 – Music residencies are tops in Strip entertainment

Last year, Caesars Entertainment parted ways with their entertainment booker, AEG. This was fairly underreported but residencies like Celine Dion, Elton John, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and others ended their shows.

Caesars Entertainment just signed a new co-promoter deal with Live Nation, who just happens to be AEG’s biggest competitor. The new partnership is already providing dividends with a flurry of new residency announcements.

Journey and Sting will have residencies at Caesars Palace. Paula Abdul will take over the showroom from the soon-to-depart Donnie & Marie show.

The deal with Live Nation is national. Some of the Caesars Entertainment engagements in Las Vegas could end up stopping at other casinos around the country. If this sounds familiar, it’s because MGM Resorts currently books some of their limited engagements at multiple locations as well. Perhaps other cities want to follow the Vegas model and get a piece of the acts, some of which have been immensely popular moneymakers.

MGM properties also have some headlining residencies sure to keep Caesars on its toes: Aerosmith, Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars, not to mention Lady Gaga‘s wildly successful Engima and Jazz & Piano shows.

4 – MGM Resorts casinos are replacing some staff with robots

MGM Resorts is in the middle of a corporate reorganization. By the end of the second quarter (June), MGM Resorts will have laid off more than 1,000 employees as part of their MGM 2020 plan. The program started by laying off executives but is now impacting supervisors, managers, and even entry-level employees.

It’s easy to glance over the corporate layoffs since those employees may not directly impact a visit to a Las Vegas casino-resort. But having fewer supervisors, managers and staff at each property will change the experience when visiting the various MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas.

The remaining supervisors and managers will now take direction from groups being called the “Centers of Excellence” or “COE” (see page 16 of the MGM earnings presentation for specific responsibilities). These 18 COE’s will streamline how the casino, hotel, bars, and restaurants at each property operate. While fewer employees will save money, this could impact the personal touch casino guests have become accustomed to over the years.

The next part of the MGM 2020 plan will be to create more efficiency through technology. For example, they’re already using automation to make drinks at MGM Springfield. This and other automation will come to Las Vegas to streamline the process. This will replace some employees but shouldn’t change interactions with guest visiting bars.

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5 – Las Vegas parking fees aren’t going away anytime soon

As April came to an end, Wynn Las Vegas stopped charging all guests for self-parking. This probably has more to do with neighboring casinos than anything else. The Venetian and Treasure Island don’t charge for parking.

On their recent earnings call, MGM Resorts representatives said they have no plans to stop charging for self-parking or valet parking. Neither MGM Resorts or Caesars Entertainment plan to reduce any existing fees.

The good news is that MGM Resorts doesn’t plan on raising their fees. The same can’t be said for Caesars Entertainment who recently increased their parking fees.

Marc Meltzer

About

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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