Often overshadowed by Strip resorts in the minds of tourists, downtown is Rodney Dangerfield, never getting much respect.
But downtown Las Vegas was on a financial roll for months. At the end of the last full month in which casinos were open, February, Strip gaming win was up 2 percent while downtown Las Vegas gaming win was up 5.4 percent for the fiscal year compared with the same time last year.
Then, the pandemic hit.
But downtown has had a lot going for its until the bottom fell out for every casino in the state in March. Consider:
The Golden Nugget opened its 500-room Rush Tower in 2009, the dawning of the new era for downtown.
The 1,375-foot Fremont Street Experience is four times sharper and seven times brighter. Work began last year on the upgrades that debuted this summer.
Millions of dollars were pumped into the Plaza to renovate rooms and add crowd-pleasing features in 2019.
The 81-room Hotel Apache, opened in 1932 at Binion’s, reopened its doors in 2019 as a boutique property run by TLC Casino Enterprises.
Nearly 500 rooms were added to the Downtown Grand with a new tower that opens next month. The property is already taking reservations.
The coup de grace is the 777-room Circa, the first new resort built in Las Vegas since 2016 and the tallest building in downtown Las Vegas. The casino opens in October and the hotel in December.
Through it all, downtown gaming win sustained growth that was usually higher than the Strip’s and was at a greater pace than the rest of Clark County.
In June 2019, gaming win was up 18.6 percent compared with 14.6 percent in the county and 11.6 percent statewide. For the fiscal year that ended that month, downtown win soared 5.9 percent while Strip win fell 0.9 percent, the county was up a meager 0.7 percent and the state rose 0.8 percent.
The pattern continued until the bottom fell out.
While downtown is scuffling along with other casino regions, the upside is on hold until tourists return and business gets back to normal.