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Vegas tourists gambled less in 2011. Or did they?

March 27, 2012|By Ashley Powers

Las Vegas — Can you trust a gambler to tell you the truth about how much cash he’s blown?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal raised the intriguing question this week when reporting on Sin City’s annual visitor profile study, a gauge of who’s visiting Las Vegas and where their money is going.

By many measures, Las Vegas tourism is starting to regain its footing, though officials are concerned that a spike in gas prices or other financial turmoil could stall the nascent recovery. In 2011, for example, gambling revenue at casinos on the Strip was up 5.1% compared with the prior year.

But in the 2011 visitor study, tourists said they banked $447.63 for gambling on average, a drop from $466.20 in 2010, the Review-Journal reported. That's despite the fact that tourists said they spent more on food, shopping, sightseeing and hotel rooms in 2011 than in 2010.

What gives?

One factor is that the Strip captured more revenue from baccarat, where the players tend to bet larger amounts, perhaps compensating for any tight-fisted visitors. But another is that, well, people lie.

"I think psychologically, the recession still plays a part in what visitors will tell someone what they have budgeted for gaming," Kevin Bagger of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority told the paper. "What is budgeted and what is actually spent can be much different."

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ashley.powers@latimes.com

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