- By Hugo Martin and David Montero Los Angeles Times
Las Vegas tourism leaders revived the famous “What happens here, stays here” slogan three months after a mass shooting on the Strip, but gaming revenue and visitation numbers remain depressed in the tourist destination.
In January, total visitation to the city dropped 3.3 percent, while gaming revenue from the Strip slumped by 8.89 percent, the steepest percentage drop among all Nevada gambling markets for the month — and the biggest for the Strip since the Oct. 1 shooting at a country-music festival that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.
But tourism and gaming officials attributed much of the decline to factors beyond the mass shooting, including the month having one less weekend compared to January 2017 and the shift of the lunar new year to February.
In addition, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which reports on tourism numbers, said there were nearly 2,000 fewer available rooms in January compared to a year ago because of construction and renovation.
A separate monthly report issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board showed revenue on the Strip declined by 8.89 percent — for a haul of $554.8 million in January.
October revenue had been down 6 percent followed by drops of 6 percent in November and 3.25 percent in December.
Michael Lawton, senior research analyst with the control board, said that tourism has been down since before the Oct. 1 shooting and the situation hasn’t been helped by several properties on the Strip undergoing renovation.
Larger-than-normal losses at the baccarat tables also have been a key culprit in the revenue declines.
“Bottom line is that the declines on the Strip over the last four months are attributable to several factors beyond the impact of Oct. 1,” Lawton said in an email.
However, downtown Las Vegas was a bright spot, with gaming revenue up 1.6 percent — a fourth straight month of increases since October, though the smallest during the stretch.
Laughlin and Reno, by contrast, reported increases in gaming revenue and hotel occupancy.