Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Real Cost of Las Vegas Show Business.

While working a guest spot in a show on the Las Vegas strip last week, I got to thinking about shows in Las Vegas and what the producers have to deal with.

20 years ago casinos used to have a big production show as well as a lounge show to entertainment their patrons. This meant the producers were paid to supply a casino with lavish shows featuring beautiful costumes, stunning dancers, amazing choreography, plus unique variety acts. There would be a cast of 50 or 60 performers that filled the stage every night to the delight of the casinos' gamblers. These shows were considered a loss leader because the casino used them as a marketing tool. They would advertising the dancers in their skimpy showgirl costumes and give tickets away to guests as a perk for coming to that casino and gambling. The lounge shows would be used in the same way because a good lounge show would keep gamblers around to spend a little more. The casino owners understood the value of these shows, they knew that shows had the ability to not just entertain but to also create a form of good will. Casinos only wanted the best shows at their casino because ultimately it meant more people through their doors. But all that has changed.

Today shows compete for space on a casino stage. Meaning the casinos have become landlord renting out the theatre to whom ever has the most money, not the person with the best show. There is no quality control and ticket brokers will push only the shows which pay them the most to sell their tickets. What does this mean? A lot!

  •   The casino no longer cares how good the show is, only how much money they are making from the rental of the theatre, not realizing that this backfires on them. Casino patrons don't know the casino has nothing to do with the show, but they assume it does, so people walk out of a bad show thinking it was a casino show and leave the casino resentful that they wasted time and money watching a terrible show.
  •   Shows now have to make money when they never use to. So there are no lavish productions numbers with beautiful sets, because that takes time, money and space. When a show shares the theatre with 3-4 other shows backstage space is at a premium. These shows not only have to pay rent but also pay for music rights, dancers, singers, speciality acts, stage crews, advertising, pre-production, etc. All this leaves producers scrambling to fill seats as soon as possible spending valuable dollars on advertising.
  •   Anyone with money can rent a room and because there are so many rooms with so many shows, some amazing little jewels get lost in a sea of mediocrity. There are hundreds of shows to chose from, how do you know if you are getting the diamond or the coal.
  •   Ticket brokers used to be paid a couple dollars for every ticket they sold, now they are making $35 dollars or more per ticket for some shows. For most shows that means the broker is making more off of the ticket than the actual show. It also means that the broker is not selling you the best show but the show they will make the most money from. When you as a ticket buyer walk up to a ticket booth and they start telling you about the different shows, generally brokers will only tell you about the show tickets they want you to buy, skipping over the shows they still only make $5 dollars from.

I know that this current trend with shows and show business will change, but will that change come soon enough? Will casinos realize that a good show is worth its weight in gold, and a bad show is not worth the rent? Yes! I know it will change, I just hope it doesn't take another 20 years to make that change.


  1. Very Well said and sadly all too true.

  2. Next time I go to Vegas I will make sure that whatever casino I visit that I tell the manager how important it is to pick good quality shows. And yes! your right people don't know that the casino is not in charge of the entertainment. So if you have a bad show it makes them look bad, but if they have a kick ass show people will remember that. People won't come back or will give a bad rap if the quality is poor. Attention casino owners and managers! If your going to be in the business of gambling then don't be cheap because in the end you may loose your stack of chips. -Imaginator-

  3. I say these exact things all the time!!!

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