On last week’s Wynn Resorts earnings call Steve Wynn went into a long discussion of how Wynn Las Vegas is adjusting their casino floor to maximize revenue. Here’s an excerpt of the call from Vegas Hotel News.
I also rearranged the floor in the casino to put our specialty games that are very popular with the public – that have a higher margin – and I put them in the hundred percent location. And I moved my games with less of a margin to secondary locations. Those changes have worked out favorably to us in the past three weeks, and that kind of re-examination… our slot floor has been re-done. We win more money with less games now. These are some of the reasons why we make more money than anybody else in Las Vegas.
You can read the full segment on gambling at Wynn from the Wynn Resorts earnings call from Vegas Hotel News.
Every business has the right to maximize their earnings potential. At the same time every customer has the right to take their money elsewhere.
I haven’t gambled at Wynn in almost a year and I don’t see myself returning any time soon. The emphasis on 6:5 blackjack, 2x craps (info on Vegas Chatter), poor video poker pay tablesand the focus on prominently featuring games with a high house edge really isn’t of interest to me.
I’ve always liked gambling at Wynn and especially Encore. While I’m looking forward to the renovations at Encore (details on Travel Vegas) and I love dining at SW Steakhouse I’m not sure I want to support Steve Wynn any time soon.
About a month ago I visited Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio. Dinner was so flawless that I almost forgot about it. Almost.
Prime sits on the Bellagio lake that looks out onto the Vegas Strip. We planned to sit outside on the patio so we could enjoy the Bellagio Fountain Show but it was a bit hot for that. The sun was setting on a 115 degree day and it didn’t seem like the right time to eat steak outdoors. Call me crazy but steak outside doesn’t sound awesome when it’s still 100 degrees outside. We opted to sit inside and ended up with a seat near the window so we could kinda see the show.
Since this was a birthday celebration dinner started with a couple of drinks. Macallan 12 with 4 cubes (of ice) was how I began the night. As usual the ice was nearly melted when the drink arrived and totally gone when I finally got around to taking a sip.
Each section at Prime has 3 distinct waiters. SW Steakhouse at Wynn has a similar staffing model and it’s wonderful. You’re always speaking with someone who knows their section of the menu, be it a drink, food or otherwise.
There’s always a waiter checking in to see if you need something. THIS is how dinner at a $100+ per person meal should be served. Thankfully the service wasn’t the only great part of dinner.
I’m usually a New York Strip guy but recently have found myself enjoying a filet mignon my last few times out. When I saw that there was bone-in filet mignon on the menu, I had to have it. If there’s one complaint about the filet cut of steak is that it’s not flavorful. It makes sense since there isn’t much fat to keep the flavor in. The bone acted as a flavor saver (TWSS).
The bone-in filet mignon at Prime was outstanding!
As you can see I was so excited looking at the steak that I couldn’t wait to take a picture before digging in. The steak was so juicy and flavorful that I almost couldn’t believe that it was a filet. The steak was so gentle to the touch that I barely had to put pressure on the knife to cut it.
I love the Vegas strip. There’s no place in the world like it. There never has been and there never will be. It’s awesome. That said, the strip has been changing a lot from when I first started visiting Las Vegas for bettor better and worse. Right now the center of the Vegas strip is where you’ll find plenty of construction for The Linq, The Quad and Bill’s but in the next few years the construction will be moving to the north end of the strip with Resorts World and SLS Hotel.
The Vegas strip change isn’t anything new. CityCenter, Cosmopolitan and even Wynn ushered in change over the past decade because their customers are changing. People don’t come to Las Vegas just to gamble like they used to. They come for the night clubs, fine dining and shows. In fact, people have been coming to Las Vegas for those things more often almost every year since 1990 and in 1999 when people began spending more money on things beyond the casino.
Revenue is the total amount of money spent and not profit. This chart only shows gaming and non-gaming revenue so let’s look at an approximation on gross profit. The house edge (ie. gross profit) on some of the worst bets in the casino is only 30% with the lowest house advantages being under 1%. Meanwhile, the markup on a bottle of wine in a 4 star restaurant can be 200% or more. Even a soda at a low end restaurant will be marked up over 1,000%. The markup on a bottle of vodka at a nightclub dwarves all both of those.
In todays, corporate run, Las Vegas every square inch of a casino has to show a profit. This information has to be reported every quarter and in order to show shareholders that the future looks bright they have to always show a profit. Sure the casino may lure you in but the real money is made on those awesome SW steak dinners or at a table in Marquee.
Even if the Cosmo only gets a percentage of the revenue from Marquee there is a nice chunk of money to be made their from small stake plus rent plus overflow spending at restaurants and bars.
Gambling hasn’t left Las Vegas. Far from it. While the chart above shows that 35% of the revenue earned on the Vegas strip is from gaming you’ll find that Downtown Vegas still earns the majority of its revenue from gaming.
Moving forward expect this trend to continue. If you’re a gambler you’ll probably find better gaming options and more people like you downtown. If you don’t mind worse gaming odds and don’t mind being around different people you will still be able to find fun on the Vegas strip.
Personally, I love the both the gaming and non-gaming Las Vegas and look forward to seeing what the future brings.
On my first night of this trip to Las Vegas I had dinner at SW Steakhouse at Wynn. I went into this dinner with plenty of excitement based on feedback from others, but I had a little apprehension as well.
My only visit to Wynn wasn’t very fun as the casino felt stuffy and boring. When I called to make reservations I was told that if anyone didn’t show for my reservation I would be charged $50 a person. I felt somewhat threatened by this, but I understood why that policy might exist. When I called back to adjust my reservation I was told that policy was never used. Very nice.
When my friends and I walked in we were greeted with smiles and had a drink at the bar while we waited for a table. I had a 9:30 reservation because I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to wash up and change after the Thursday night football game (which paid for dinner). I’ve found that a late reservation can be hit or miss with food preparedness. Dinner was a hit on this night and was the beginning of a turnaround on my feelings about Wynn.
Dinner started with fantastic bread that is baked fresh daily on the premises. I don’t like to fill up on bread because I like to try as many different foods that come to the table, but it was difficult to stop eating. I’m happy to say that I stopped at one piece. Even though it was highly recommended I didn’t have a bacon cheddar muffin. The bread was a great sign of what was to come.
The others at table shared a variety of seafood appetizers and they all seemed to like it. I stuck with a Caesar salad that was excellent. We each also had a slice of bacon. I don’t think this is on the menu and it was damn good. A nice salty way to move the evening forward.
I almost always get a NY strip when I’m at a steakhouse for the first time. Because of the lack of fat strips are usually pretty easy to compare.
My strip was fantastic. In fact, it was one of the best I’ve had in a while. The steak was perfectly cooked. There was a nice amount of char on the outside of the steak and the inside was soft and pink as I wanted. I believe the steak was seasoned with just salt and pepper. The salt stood out, but wasn’t overbearing and the meat tasted fantastic.
I don’t recall all of the sides ordered, but the photo above shows that we had parmesan creamed spinach. I’m pretty sure that we also had the truffled creamed corn, butter roasted fingerling potatoes, and steamed asparagus. All of the sides were excellent.
If there was a down part of the meal it was our choice of wine. It didn’t have the body and full flavor I enjoy with steak.
One of the things you’ll read about Wynn is that their service goes above and beyond and the service at SW proved that to be true. Service was fantastic. We had two waiters that handled different parts of service and their work blended seamlessly.
Dinner at SW was fantastic and I would definitely go back again. The food, the service and the vibe were all really good.
If you’re on twitter I recommend following WynnLasVegas for info and tips on dining and everything at Wynn.