Some things in Vegas never change—lavish parties, crowded casinos, and the constant rotation of spectacular shows and concerts, to name a few. But like the spin of the roulette wheel, Vegas never stands still for long.
If you haven’t visited in a few years, you might be wondering how Las Vegas has changed since your last adventure. Businesses and experiences have always come and gone with comforting regularity, but the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting travel behavior have ushered in a number of fresh Las Vegas changes you should know about before you arrive.
Hotels are changing hands (and themes), old favorites are disappearing, and new trends are emerging. Whether you’re a Vegas regular or you’re planning your first trip, you might be surprised by some of the changes, so we’ve compiled a list of key Las Vegas changes to know about before visit, including:
- Things that are disappearing
- Things you can expect to see more of
- Changes to iconic hotels and resorts
Let’s jump in.
How Has Las Vegas Changed: 4 Things That Are Disappearing
If you’re used to coin slots, cheap buffets, and tons of business travel, you can expect to see less of these things on your next visit.
1. Coin slots and reel slots are on their way out
Ah, the dazzling tinkle of coins pouring out of a winning slot machine—talk about classic Vegas vibes. But coin slots have been on their way out for years now, replaced by paper vouchers or pre-loaded cards. Now, the only casino on the Strip with coin slots is Circus Circus. Two casinos downtown offer classic coin slots (The Cal and the El Cortez), but in most casinos you’ll be stuck with the easier-to-carry but far less satisfying paper voucher (or card).
Reel slots—those classic slot machines with rotating wheels that need to line up perfectly to win—are also on their way out. Reel slots require more mechanical maintenance, which means they cost more to maintain, so casinos are phasing out these classic models and replacing them with modern, easier-to-maintain video and touchscreen slots.
2. $1 roulette is off the table
Looking for a low-cost way to experience the fun and excitement of roulette? A number of Strip casinos are waving goodbye to $1 roulette spins, with the new minimum denomination doubling to $2. It may not be a ton of cash in the long run, but if you’re not a gambler and you want a taste of the excitement, be prepared to pay a little extra per spin.
3. Cheap buffets are off the menu
Buffets have always been loss leaders for Vegas casinos, and the pandemic gave many resorts the excuse they needed to cut them for good. The Strip used to be home to 18 buffets, but only 8 remain in 2023. You can find them here:
- Bacchanal at Caesars Palace
- The Buffet at Bellagio
- Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan
- The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas
- The MGM Grand Buffet
- The Buffet at Excalibur
- The Circus Buffet at Circus Circus
- The B Buffet at Luxor
Looking for low budget eats on the Strip? Food halls are emerging as the new option for cost-conscious visitors.
4. Business travel is drying up
Business travel may be rebounding, but it still remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Attendance at CES, one of the largest conventions held in Vegas every year, plummeted more than 70% in 2022 compared to 2020, attracting a mere 45,000 attendees (vs. 170,000 in 2020). While 2023 attendance exceeded projections, attracting over 115,000 guests, it was still well under the number who attended in January 2020.
What does this mean for non-business travelers to Vegas? It seems as though even if major conventions do return, they will be smaller than they once were. That means if you’re planning a trip to Sin City, you may have less competition finding rooms on event dates. It also means that Sin City is looking into new ways to attract visitors, such as encouraging longer stays from business travelers or embracing a more engaging sports and leisure event model. (More on this later.)
Las Vegas Changes: 5 Things You Can Expect To See More Of
Here’s what you can expect to see more of on your next trip to Vegas:
1. Self-service machines
Electronic gaming is rendering some dealers obsolete (especially if you’re a fan of craps), but the shift to self-service isn’t limited to just gaming. Hotel front desk, concierge, and bartending services are all being replaced by automated self-service machines, so be prepared to see more of these kiosks on your next visit.
2. Dynamic pricing
It’s becoming more and more common for resorts not to put prices on snacks and gift shop items so they can engage in “dynamic pricing” practices instead. Surge pricing (in which prices can be adjusted based on hotel occupancy) is becoming the new normal, meaning you won’t actually know the price of these items till you check out.
3. Paying for premium restaurant seating
This one isn’t exactly new—slipping the maitre d’ a tip on your way in in exchange for a good table is a well-established practice. But a number of Vegas restaurants are now officially offering prime seating for a fee to ensure you get the dining experience of your dreams without requiring you to gently incentivize the host.
4. Cannabis consumption lounges
Cannabis consumption lounges are coming to Vegas. While they are not allowed within casinos or resorts, 15 consumption lounge licenses have been approved within city limits, and they’re expected to start opening in 2023.
5. High profile sports
Vegas may not be the first place you think of when you think of high-profile professional sports franchises, but Sin City has slowly been expanding into this arena, spearheaded by the launch of the Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL team in 2017.
Fast forward to 2023 and Vegas is home to a number of high-profile sports events and groups, including the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix in November—complete with ultra fast F1 racing cars zooming down the Strip—and the 2024 Super Bowl.
The Oakland A’s will also be moving to Vegas in 2023, bringing major league baseball to Sin City for the first time. So while business travel may be slowing, it’s safe to expect tourism traffic to increase around these events and franchises.
Changes to Iconic Hotels and Resorts
Vegas’s hotel and casino landscape has shifted in a number of ways in recent years. If you’re researching places to stay during your visit, here are some key Las Vegas changes to know about:
- Caesars Entertainment recently overhauled Bally’s, rebranding it as Horseshoe.
- Hard Rock International plans to transform the Mirage and its iconic volcano into a 660-foot tall guitar-shaped hotel.
- Fontainebleau Las Vegas—a 67-storey hotel originally planned for 2009—is expected to finally be completed in late 2023, with a whopping 3,700 hotel rooms.
- Durango Casino & Resort in Spring Valley off Interstate 215 is expected to open in late 2023, with 15 stories and more than 200 rooms, as well as a pool, casino, and multiple major restaurants.
The entertainment landscape is shifting as well, with two major openings to know about:
- Wildfire on Fremont is a casino and sports viewing establishment located in a quieter corner of downtown Las Vegas. Wildfire will offer over 200 of the latest and most popular slot machines, plus bar-top gaming and electronic table games.
- The MSG Sphere on the Strip is expected to open in fall 2023, kicking off with a series of shows by U2. Located next to the Venetian, this massive dome-shaped entertainment complex will be wrapped in 580,000 square feet of LED video screens featuring 16K resolution, reaching 336 feet tall and 516 feet wide, and accommodating up to 20,000 guests.
How Has Las Vegas Changed?
Changing travel behaviors inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting priorities for travelers have ushered in a number of changes in Vegas, from the loss of cheap buffets and less business travel to a rise in surge pricing, more pro sports than ever before, and a spate of changes to the hotel and casino landscape.
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