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Station, Coast continue grip on locals market

Dec 14, 2004 6:29 AM

If you’re the operator of "neighborhood" casinos in Las Vegas, your proximity to customers is slightly more important than the friendliness of your casino staff.

That’s one of the results of a survey conducted in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Two years ago, the same survey showed proximity and friendly workers shared the top spot with 19 percent of the responses each, while this year’s study showed that locals preferred the casino closest to their home by 21 percent to 12 percent who say they like friendly personnel.

The survey, conducted by a third-party market research firm for Goldman Sachs, an investment research company, was made up of 300 interviews with residents who visit Clark County casinos at least four times a year.

A total of 39 percent of the respondents visited casinos at least weekly and 73 percent visited at least once a month. About one-third of the respondents said they never visit a Strip casino, a very similar finding to the 2002 results.

The popularity of Boyd properties improved considerably from the 2002 survey. They were mentioned 24 percent of the time as having the best offerings for locals, an increase from 18 percent. Goldman Sachs said the significant increase was because of the increased popularity of Coast Casinos, which received 16 percent of the responses this year versus 11 percent in the 2002 survey.

Station Casinos was mentioned the most by respondents, and received 36 percent of the responses as the best offering for locals.

The two most popular properties among Las Vegas residents were the Palms and Texas Station, with both garnering 8 percent of the votes.

The survey showed that 67 percent of the respondents said that they visited casinos the same number of times this year as in the last survey, with 14 percent saying the number of their visits had increased and 18 percent said the number of visits had decreased since the last survey.

The respondents who said they had increased the number of their visits citied better amenities and location, and more free time. Those who said they were going to casinos less often mentioned financial concerns, winning less and having less fun as the primary reasons.

The survey found that two-thirds of the respondents spend less than $100 per visit to the casinos, but Goldman Sachs speculated that while they are gambling a low amount, locals might be going to casinos more frequently.

When asked what is the most important factor in deciding where to play, coming in behind location of the casino and atmosphere, were loose slots, which was mentioned by 14 percent of the respondents, and restaurants, cited by 12 percent.