Is Blackjack Dying?

It’s getting harder and harder to be a blackjack player these days.  6:5 payouts are getting more common, tables with reasonable rules are less available, Baccaract is slowly taking over, and twenty-something party kids are turning Vegas into a giant nightclub with more celebrity DJs popping up every day.

Great article from Pacific Standard about the 6:5 blackjack payout and other trends chipping away at blackjack’s dominance in the world of gambling.  Some of the most interesting items include the decline in blackjack as a percentage of the total winnings for casinos – down to approx. 25% of casino revenue in 2013 vs. roughly 50% in ’85.

It’s surprising to me that casinos are squeezing the blackjack rules as they are making less from gaming in general.  More and more revenue comes from hotel rooms, dining and night clubs, but Vegas was built on gaming.  So if I own a casino and I make it less friendly for gamblers am I making a great business move or a short term profit while hurting my long-range success?

I’d argue that there is a tipping point which is coming closer – gamblers like me have bigger overall budgets than club kids for their average trip, but it may not be as obvious.  The party crowd pays $50 cover, buy $100 bottles, and spend their days at the pool – generalizing here, but you get the idea.  Me and my blackjack playing friends bring $1000+/day for gaming, buy nice dinners, and stay in comped rooms.

On the surface the party crowd might actually look more profitable since they pay for their rooms, drinks and clubs, but my guess is that the gambler is still the foundation that makes Vegas, well Vegas.  When the trends turn, and the trends always turn, and the celeb DJ scene starts to fade like old trucker hats I’m thinking that gamblers will be what saves Vegas (again).

I’m probably being a bit over-dramatic, but c’mon casino owners, don’t squeeze us with 6:5 blackjack and other weak rules meant to cut corners with the novice players because at some point you are going to need some winners coming back with good memories of their time at the tables to keep printing money in the desert.



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