Back in the early 2000s, I used to write a column called "The Gaming Investor" for Casino Player magazine. As a result, I had a front-row seat to the gradual transformation that's taken place in the casino business over the years.
The days of cheap drinks and 99-cent shrimp cocktails are sadly gone for the most part. Once considered loss-leaders just to lure in gamblers, property owners have invested heavily to renovate and update their lounges, showrooms and buffets. These ancillary areas of operation now take in more cash than the casinos. As a result, Las Vegas isn't the Vegas Frank Sinatra knew -- or even the one that I marveled at for the first time in the late 1990s. Alongside high-rollers at the baccarat tables are affluent partygoers at swanky clubs who aren't shy about forking over $10,000 for a private VIP table. This diversification of the revenue stream means more ways to separate visitors from thier dollars -- and less reliance on Lady Luck (although we know the house always wins).