Gambling resorts said business was booming over the Christmas holiday, raising hopes for a strong finish to what is traditionally the slowest month of the year.
"It was like a major Fourth of July-type holiday," Caesars Palace spokesman Phil Cooper said. "It was hard to negotiate through the casino it was so packed."
Big turnouts are expected to continue, with many resorts sold out through Jan. 1.
"No vacancy" signs are expected to reappear shortly after New Year's Day. About 100,000 people will arrive Jan. 9 for the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
Casino executives are hoping for a turnaround after a slump in the Nevada gaming industry that began in October.
Many resorts are turning to lower room rates and other discounts to head off what gaming analysts see as a soft first half of 1992.
The Stardust Hotel has been offering a package deal that includes reduced room rates, free meals and two tickets to the show "Enter the Night," spokesman Jim Seagrave said.
"We were full, which is gratifying because this year we have 2,500 rooms to fill," he said. The resort opened a new tower this year.
Bally's Las Vegas has been promoting a "December celebration package" that includes rooms, meals, tickets to the "Jubilee!" stage show and gambling discounts at $24.50 per person per night, double occupancy, said spokesman Tom Bruny.
Bruny said the facility has been sold out since Dec. 23.
Discounts have been important this year because recession-weary visitors are looking for bargains.
Bruny said the resorts are actually getting two crowds--one that checked in for Christmas and another coming this weekend for New Year's.
Christmas, once the slowest holiday of the year in this gaming capital, is becoming one of the more popular.
"It's a trend we've noticed over the years," Seagrave said. "It's not like the old days, when large families lived in the same areas and had large, family-style gatherings.
"Families today are spread out all over the country," he said.