What’s highly resistant to 40-year high inflation and malingering COVID-19 (and now monkey pox) fears? The idea of winning money, of course, explaining the 2022 boom in casino gambling.
With cryptocurrencies in tatters after months of hammering by pessimists (and possibly realists), those who bet big on bitcoin have watched those wagers weaken from a high of $68,000 last November, with TIME’s Next Advisor reporting Thursday (Aug. 4) that “the most extreme crypto skeptics say bitcoin will tank to as low as $10,000 in 2022.”
Oddsmakers called it early on, with USBookies.com saying late last year that “bitcoin (BTC) has 4-1 odds to reach $50,000 by Sept. 22 (20% implied probability), according to betting aggregators. The odds bitcoin falls below $10,000 by this time are 10-1 (9.1%).”
While you can still amuse yourself with 10 grand of crypto in Sin City, indications everywhere from Monte Carlo to Macao are that more folks are opting for slots and table games of chance, perhaps leaving crypto speculation to “the experts” and going for more familiar get-rich-quick schemes.
There is a rosy glow around Las Vegas this year, and it isn’t the gels on stage lights behind that Elvis impersonator. The Strip is back to minting money even amid a broader economic grind.
“Despite inflation at a four-decade high, and jitters over a looming recession, people are flocking to the entertainment and gambling oasis,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Thursday. “Executives with Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International this week reported record-high performances for their Las Vegas properties in the latest quarter.”
For added color, WSJ noted: “In June, Nevada gambling revenue was about $1.3 billion, the 16th month in a row that gambling revenue exceeded a billion dollars, according to state regulators.”
Celebrity Cage Match: Casinos Versus Crypto
Sounding as giddy as any casino chief ever does, on an earnings call with analysts Wednesday (Aug. 3), MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said: “Our second-quarter results represented our highest adjusted property EBITDAR quarter in the history of Las Vegas, both on an absolute and same-store basis, and the highest second quarter in our regionals ever with seven of our U.S. properties setting all-time records.”
Put another way: To hell with inflation and monkey pox — place your bets.
Not that crypto is on the outs. Resorts World Las Vegas, the $4.3 billion gaming palace built on the site of the beloved Stardust property and the first major casino added to the Strip in over 10 years made a deal with Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss-led crypto exchange Gemini last year.
Those of us who weep for billionaires sobbed inwardly when Fortune reported in May that “Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, co-founders of rival crypto exchange Gemini, have each lost about $2.2 billion — or roughly 40% — of their wealth this year.”
It’s heartbreaking what’s happened to the Winklevoss twins — as if their infamous Facebook imbroglio wasn’t bad enough — but we have a feeling that the plucky pair will be OK.
Over on the gambling island of Macao — possibly neighboring the island where “Westworld” is situated — they’ve shut down everything except casinos.
“City officials have begun closing schools, tourist attractions, cultural venues and all non-essential businesses,” CNN reported in June. “Restaurants have been ordered to suspend dine-in services. Casinos have been allowed to remain open, however, analysts say their bottom line will still be hit as the government has urged residents not to visit entertainment venues.”
Adding that “Macao’s government relies on casinos for more than 80% of its income, with most of the population employed directly or indirectly by the casino industry,” it’s easy to understand why schools are closed but betting parlors are not.
It’s the economy, stupid.