Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2017

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Betting on red and black: Roulette makes a comeback in Nevada

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STEVE MARCUS

Bets are placed on roulette during the opening of the casino floor at the Cromwell, formerly Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, in April 2014. The game is seeing a resurgence statewide, according to the latest gaming revenue reports.

Roulette, the iconic casino game featured in numerous Hollywood movies, is making a bit of a comeback in Nevada casinos, showing marked increases this year and through most of 2016, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The win from roulette was up 58.87 percent in Nevada in February compared to the same month last year, the most recent gaming revenue report said. The only other game that saw a similar year-over-year increase for February was bingo.

Roulette was also up 7.97 percent for three months ending Feb. 28, compared to the same period a year ago, and up 13.27 percent for 12 months ending Feb. 28, compared to the previous 12-month period.

“Roulette had a great February due to improved hold and increased volumes,” said Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst with the board. “2016 was a good year as well with increases in win and volume, which followed up three consecutive calendar year decreases to win.”

Lawton said a bump in roulette play a few years ago made the following years’ numbers look poor in comparison but now the game is seeing a resurgence.

“The state set a record in roulette volume in 2012 with $2.1 billion in wagers, which was due to some very strong Latin America play that hasn’t returned to those levels in four years,” Lawton said.

Rob Cinelli, Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s senior vice president of casino operations, said roulette is doing better at the casinos he manages because visitation numbers are up overall in Las Vegas and because the game is becoming more popular.

“Yes, we’re definitely seeing an uptick,” Cinelli said. “Roulette is a volume game and as visitation increases to Las Vegas, then roulette naturally increases.”

To accommodate the increased volume and interest in the game, five to seven roulette wheels have been added in the last year and a half at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, Cinelli said.

Anthony Curtis, owner of lasvegasadvisor.com, said he’s also seen an increase in roulette play.

“I see more people playing it,” Curtis said. “I see far fewer dead roulette tables than I used to. It’s one of the games that for some reason is resonating better with the younger crowd — the millennials that all the casinos are trying to get.”

Cinelli agreed.

“Although roulette is not a skill-based game, players have a feeling that they are responsible for the outcome by placing the bet, unlike a slot where there’s no involvement other than pushing a button,” he said. “We are seeing that our roulette players’ age is skewing a bit younger. So we are seeing an increase in volume and also a decrease in the age of the demographic playing it.”

In his casino travels, Curtis said he is noticing that roulette is popular for younger gamblers before and after they hit nightclubs on the Strip.

“When I’m walking through the casino, there’s always a younger customer and a younger crowd on the roulette wheel,” Curtis said. “It’s a hit with the club crowd. Roulette seems to be a cool thing to do before you go into the club and when they come out they play. I see them all the time, having a few drinks and powering up on the roulette table.”

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