Everyone has their ways to figure out if the economy is improving. The government uses home sales and unemployment. I prefer a more unconventional method, minimum bet amounts at the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel crap tables and the private dance prices of a stripper.
I do it for science and science only. Each year I make an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas to see how the economy is doing. I ask the cab drivers, pit bosses, and adult dancers how things are going. They tell the truth. While it may be personal experience, if you get enough in each category you can get a pretty good snapshot of the economy based on travel and spending to Las Vegas. I received quite a bit more data from the last category this year but I didn’t weigh them heavier because the “Spearmint Rhino” tends to do pretty well in good and bad times.
Here’s my take away. Two years ago at the exact same time, March Madness, I could easily find a $10 minimum crap table at the higher end casinos. Most were $15 and $25 but there were usually 3 $10 tables. This past weekend, one or none. While this may not seem like a big deal, the difference between a $10 and a $15 minimum is $20 PER PLAY for your typical player that plays the come, odds line, and then numbers like 6 or 8. To me it says times are getting better. Enough that they feel comfortable that they can raise the limits and still keep them full.
I also ask all the taxi drivers about their revenue. All taxis are paid on commission with no leasing. The overall consensus is it’s dramatically improved but not near what it was 4 years ago. They also don’t buy the 80% occupancy claims by the hotels. They are thinking 70%. You can’t count the big weekends when they are always booked solid. It’s non traditionally big weeks that are important.
And then comes the exotic dancers. This information all comes third party, I promise. OK, maybe a little research on my part. The big place the “Spearmint Rhino” is always packed and money flies. They own Vegas now and not a very good judge. The other clubs, on big weekends they are doing OK but the quality of the dancers have decreased. This leads me to think that perhaps the quality dancers have moved to another club or have gotten a “real” job. In my opinion, the tougher the economy, the more dancers. If the “Hustler” club is any indication then the economy is fantastic. My buddy received the first lap dance ever while the dancer ate a bowl of soup. Nothing says sexy like Lipton.