The Bear Growls: Laughlin lacks customers, its casino managers lack sense

Welcome to Laughlin.  Now go home. 

At many Laughlin casinos, at least half the pit was closed on a recent Saturday evening. Dealers are complaining about working only two days a week. Two casinos have lowered most table limits to a puny $100. Games throughout town are now mostly garbage, except for the Riverside, which is holding steady. The Riverside, the last place in Laughlin to offer decent value to average patrons as well as to brain-using patrons, appears to have the most customers by far. Imagine that.

Laughlin was built as a “good value” alternative to Las Vegas. It has forgotten the reason for its existence and former popularity, except Riverside. There is no good reason to patronize most of the other places, which have become outright burn joints. Golden Nugget dealers now suffer from shuffling disease, rivaling the dump next door, Pioneer. Edgewater and Colorado Belle’s games are so awful I felt like I should a shower after walking through there. Both have converted their double decks to 6 to 5 ripoff. Tropicana is scared of its own shadow. River Palms is worthless. Harrah’s is, well, Harrah’s — not much more to add. Aquarius might accidentally offer a playable game here and there, but is profusely sweaty, and certainly not worth a trip to Laughlin. Avi is now a joke, with $100 maximums and hardly any customers. Routine maintenance appears to have been deferred, probably as a cost-cutting measure.

Laughlin used to be my favorite casino locale. Now, with the notable exception of the Riverside, the whole place could slide into the Colorado River and it would be no loss. Sad. RIP, Laughlin.



  1. Its been eons for me but I have fond memories of Laughlin: the airport held my flight for a few minutes as my water taxi sped me there in the pre London Bridge days. I’ve no real right to comment on current conditions other than to say cost cutting and deferred maintenance are terms others have recently used about Laughlin. In the Long Ago, when I was there, Laughlin was described as the RV and pickup truck scene instead of the limousine scene. I recall the two dollar movies of long ago.
    The “hardly any customers” is very worrisome. I wonder how much of that is due to deferred maintenance and how much of it is due to excessively sweating the money while shuffling rather than dealing. Or perhaps the “hardly any customers” situation can not be precisely allocated between a cranky elevator and a cranky dealer. The results are the same: business declines. Gamblers vote with their feet and move on to different atmospheres where they perceive they may be more likely to obtain value for their dollars. I recently heard of a five dollar bus to Laughlin and had filed the information away in my brain for possible consideration. Now I think I’ll just let that Five Dollar Bus and Buffet option drift out of my brain cells. Why should I even consider heading down there if its such a depressingly poor bargain for my money? I’ll let them sweat someone else’s money and let them grudgingly pay him 6:5.

  2. “Reducing payouts from 3:2 to 6:5 adds 1.39% to the casino’s advantage. In dollars? A $25 player the expected loss at 8-deck 3:2 is $11.20 per hour. The expected loss at 6:5 single deck is $29.00.”
    Okay. This is enough to turn me away from Laughlin. Is it enough to turn others away? If so, will there still be a sufficient number of patrons who do choose Laughlin? I don’t know. I do know however that I am a fairly normal consumer. I drink the most popular beer, I buy the most popular toothpaste. I am an average consumer. If I will avoid Laughlin because of its being such a raw deal, so too will others. Eventually a casino manager will wake up and see a shabby dump that is half empty. Well, a casino owner can replace the furniture overnight but it takes a long, long time to replace customers.

  3. Don’t get me wrong about Laughlin.
    It may have been a real long time since I’ve been there but I’ve heard alot of recent comments about low traffic jams, lower buffet prices, no pornslappers or condo-hustlers.

    The trouble is that I’ve also heard about deferred maintenance, filthy rooms, etc.

    And the main thing is that even those who arrive in pickup trucks rather than limousines don’t like getting a bum deal. Every casino has something about it that is going to be thought of by some as annoying, but a bum deal is annoying to all. It just takes a good bit of time for the public to react to perceive it and react to it. No one likes shuffling disease, 6:5 ripoffs or table limit signs that read “fleas only” (well, they might as well say that, its what management really wants). I’d rather not be served any drink than to get a watered-down drink. Its okay for a casino to be broke or selfishly greedy but its not okay for a casino to be dishonest! And giving the players a bum deal is dishonest, not just cheap!

  4. I just returned from a trip to Laughlin this weekend. Stayed at the Riverside…room could have used some help, but it seems that the hotel is doing some upgrades. I played some of the single deck games – They only allowed double downs on a total of 10 or higher with no DAS. Not a 6-5 game in sight, so that was good. Most of the pit was open and the place was crowded. The Golden Nugget and River Palms were deserted, all games at GN were six deck shoes, but at least they were paying 3-2 on BJ. I didn’t play there, so I can’t tell you about anything else. RP six deck games looked okay, but the one single deck game was a 6-5 POS.

    Most of my play was at Pioneer and Tropicana, single and double deck games, about 75% penetration, 3-2 on BJ, but no DAS. All dealers were hitting soft 17. I did notice that the number of people was way down from the last few times I have been there on the weekends, but I was attributing that mostly to the economy. Oh well, I had fun and even managed to make some money at the tables using the speed count.

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