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Gambling losing its appeal in Las Vegas

Only 4% of first-time visitors come to Vegas to gamble

Gambling, once the mainstay of Las Vegas, is slowly taking a back seat to other entertainment in Sin City.

The latest survey of Las Vegas visitors found that fewer people go to the city to gamble and that first-time visitors are more likely to travel there for a wedding or a convention or to visit friends and family.

The number of visitors increased to 41 million in 2014, up from 39.7 million in 2013, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau. But as hotel occupancy rates and hotel tax revenue went up, gaming revenue for Clark County fell from $9.7 billion in 2013 to $9.5 billion in 2014, according to the agency.

Gaming experts have long noted a trend of Las Vegas visitors cutting back on gambling to spend more time and money attending comedy performances, magic shows and musical acts.

The latest survey of 300 visitors conducted for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau shows that the percentage of visitors who said gambling was the primary purpose for their trip to Las Vegas dropped from 15% in 2013 to 12% last year.

The percentage of first-time visitors to Las Vegas has increased from 15% in 2013 to 19% in 2014, according to the survey. Only 4% of first-time visitors said their primary reason for visiting Las Vegas was to gamble, compared with 14% for repeat visitors.

Instead, a higher percentage of first-time visitors said they took a trip to Las Vegas last year to vacation, attend a convention or a wedding or to visit friends and relatives, according to the survey.

Las Vegas tourism officials say the trend reflects an evolution for the gambling hot spot.

“Las Vegas has long been known to evolve to make sure that we have something for everyone, and we will continue to evolve to make sure we are delivering on the brand promise and providing a great experience for everyone,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman Heidi Hayes said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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