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Casino Execs Discuss Downtown Gaming Revenue Growth

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently reported that Downtown Las Vegas gaming revenue increased 4.2 percent to $564.6 million in 2016. Last Thursday, five men behind many of Fremont Street’s casinos from El Cortez to the Plaza met to discuss the year’s success and how to keep it going.

All the execs agreed nongaming revenue attributed to the hike.

“The two are intrinsically linked,” says Jonathan Jossel, CEO of The Plaza. The casino, where occupancy increased about 15 percent last year, added new amenities with a renovated pool deck, beer garden and bingo hall. They also brought in niche markets with targeted events such as the Big Blues Bender festival.

This is something Derek Stevens, owner of The D, Golden Gate and Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, has done as well. The programming at DLVEC has included everything from Knockout Night boxing matches to the upcoming Las Rageous metal music festival.

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Jonathan Jossel, Seth Schorr, Derek Stevens, Jim Sullivan, Joe Woody and Patrick Hughes

But Downtown’s gaming revenue only accounts for about seven percent of the Strip’s revenue, so the casino operators see opportunities to keep up the positive momentum.

“Everybody likes to talk about millennials,” says Downtown Grand chairman Seth Schorr. He adds that a lot of smart people have a hard time wrapping their head around how to target that demographic. The Downtown Grand has done so by launching e-sports contests in early 2016.

As a way to directly increase gaming revenue, Stevens is expanding Golden Gate and adding an additional 100 machines. He is also focused on renovating the Las Vegas Club.

Other than new amenities, renovations and expansions, Stevens says having more access points and better connectivity to Downtown is essential. All the executives acknowledged that cleanliness, safety and continued efforts to improve the homeless population are necessary for growth as well. And Schorr says that a lot of Las Vegas suburbanites still don’t know of the changes happening Downtown. “General awareness is still important,” he says.

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