By David Stratton
Most gaming executives view the loss of Comdex as a reason Las Vegas gaming revenues reached record numbers in November.
Although some press reports stated Nevada revenues increased 13 percent to $862 million "despite" the cancellation of Comdex, most casino executives view the absence of Comdex as a positive event for casinos, especially on the Strip.
"At its peak, Comdex generated lots of conventioneers but hardly any casino revenue," says a shift supervisor at Caesars Palace. "The stories of how tight Comdex attendees were with their wallets are legendary."
Indeed, most casino operators agree that Comdex generated little revenue beyond inflated hotel room rates.
"You could fire a cannon through the casino and not hit anyone during Comdex," said a floorperson at the Stardust. "Besides that, the conventioneers rarely ate in the hotel dining rooms and restaurants. McDonalds and Burger King probably did a bang-up business."
Comdex had been Las Vegas’ biggest convention, drawing more than 200,000 delegates since its inception in 1979. But with the collapse of the dot-com industry, the computer trade show was canceled last summer.
Besides producing few gamblers, Comdex delegates took rooms that might otherwise be occupied by "legitimate" casino customers.
"During Comdex, we often charged double the rack rate for rooms, but we couldn’t accommodate some of our better casino customers," said a casino host at The Mirage. "The amount our VIP casino customers would spend in the casino more than compensated for the comp room and meals that we provided them."
Not every business suffered during Comdex, however. The men’s clubs and Strip shows did overflow business during the computer show.
"Every night I would shuttle these computer nerds to any and all the strip joints across town," said a cab driver for Whittlesea Taxi Service. "The only problem was they didn’t tip much and they liked to pile five or six bodies into the cab."