Survey: Locals market getting stronger

Mar 8, 2005 8:06 AM

A recent survey by Wall Street analysts Bear Stearns indicates Las Vegas locals are visiting "neighborhood" casinos more frequently, and spending more money when they get there.

The survey — conducted in February with more than 250 Las Vegas residents — also revealed that slot club or player reward cards play an important role in picking a casino.

"The survey generally supports our bullish outlook on the Las Vegas locals market," said analyst Joseph Greff.

The poll also identified Station Casinos as the most popular locals brand, with Boyd/Coast in a solid No. 2 position.

Specific findings include:

”¡ 27 percent of respondents increased the amount they spent in the casino. The majority of these customers (75 percent) said their average gambling budget increased from $30 to $40 per visit since last year. About 25 percent said they increased their gambling budget by $25 or more per visit.

”¡ 32 percent of respondents said they visit casinos more often than they did a year ago; 11 percent said they visited casinos less often and 57 percent said their number of visits has remained the same.

”¡ 59 percent of those surveyed cited reward and bonusing programs as important in their decision to visit a casino.

”¡ 36 percent of casino goers said the distance to the casino was the most important factor in picking their favorite casino.

"We believe the survey, despite a relatively small sample, is statistically meaningful," Greff said.

Greff added that he expected the Las Vegas locals market to remain strong because of "favorable demographics and economic trends" over the next several years.

Those trends include an expanding population base that has grown by 5 percent or 6,700 people a month for the past 12 months; a low unemployment rate of about 4 percent; and expanded development along the Strip over the next five years that should stimulate additional population and job growth as well as increase consumer spending in the locals market.

Finally, 50 percent of respondents picked Station Casinos as providing the "best overall experience," with Boyd/Coast receiving 28 percent of the vote.

"Station Casinos’ nine properties continue to hold the No. 1 brand recognition," Greff said. "Strong brand association harvested through players club/bonusing cards, coupled with a blitz of local television advertising has clearly paid dividends."