A recent article in The New York Times, shows that gambling on Latino patrons is paying off big time for casinos in Southern Nevada. Primm Nevada is a small casino town just 45 minutes south of Las Vegas; Primm Valley Casino Resorts almost had to close its doors in 2009 during the economic downturn. They are now betting that aggressively courting Latinos in Southern California will help lead them to success, and so far that has been a good bet.
They have blackjack games with bilingual dealers and rules printed in Spanish on the tables, the first casinos in the state to do so. Last year, they began a series of concerts featuring popular Spanish-speaking musicians, which fill the arena to capacity nearly every time.
“People have always said things like, ´That demographic doesn’t gamble,’ ” said Jay Thiel, the vice president of casino operations, who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. “But we looked around one day and realized that that’s who was here. We had no idea how wrong that idea was.”
The first time the casino executives saw crowds like this was last fall, at a concert, which featured the Mexican country singer Ramon Ayala. It has taken on almost legendary status among the executives. The show was the first of many to draw a sellout crowd. More than three quarters of the casino’s slot machines were occupied—more than double on a usual “good night,” by normal standards.
As the show ended Saturday night, dozens of fans stayed inside the arena to pose for pictures with the performer, who was happy to oblige, but the bigger crowd was already back in the casino. Within a few minutes, the slot machines that had sat unoccupied for the last couple of hours were all filled. The change has more than kept the doors open for Primm Valley Casino Resorts.