New Las Vegas casino, LINQ, takes focus off of gambling

I love online casinos, obviously. It’s a huge passion of mine, which is why I love my job. But I’m also insanely passionate about land-based casinos, too. I’d say equally passionate. My vacation destination of choice is Las Vegas, 9 times out of 10 (not really my favorite place in January as it gets kind of cold).

But over the last few years, I’ve noticed something. The actual casinos are starting to look more and more empty. If you went to Las Vegas in 2004 (which I did) and went back 10 years later (which I did, this summer), you’ll notice a huge difference.

Yes, there are new hotels and casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The look and feel of the strip are still pretty much the same with iconic hotels like Caesars Palace, Paris, Bellagio, Luxor, and Treasure Island grabbing your attention. And while there are new properties that have popped up over the last decade, it’s what’s happening inside that’s such a stark contrast.

In 2004, I had to fight for an open seat at pretty much every hotel on a Saturday night. In 2014, it’s a lot easier to find an open seat. And each casino feels a lot airier and less crowded. Some might argue that all the new casinos mean that people are more spread out across the strip. That’s partially true, but it isn’t the whole story.

Over the last decade, Las Vegas has started to skew younger and younger. Over the last 5 years, studies show that the average age of people hitting Vegas has dropped by about 5 years. And young people aren’t coming to gamble. They’re coming to the party. And they aren’t impressed by places like Caesars Palace. Bellagio and Wynn, despite their opulence, don’t attract the younger set.

No, people want a modern, club-like atmosphere where they can party. Caesars has taken notice. They just unveiled a new-look casino called LINQ. The property is sort of the opposite of what you’d expect from Old Vegas.

I’m not even talking about Rat Pack Vegas. I’m talking about 2004 Vegas. Back then, you expected the casino floor to be the focal point of any resort property. But LINQ is less about gambling and more about entertainment.

The casino is one small part of a sprawling property that’s surrounded by The LINQ Promenade, which features bars, restaurants, and shops. And the hotel? It’s incredibly affordable, catering to young people who don’t want to drop all their money on a fancy place to sleep.

It’s funny to see the gambling capital of the world evolve this way. I think you can expect to see more and more properties convert to the new concept. Though, as they do, I really hope a little bit of Old Vegas remains. Because, after all, some people like to be pampered.