Casino Blackjack not what it was 30 years ago

Casino BlackjackThirty years ago, casino blackjack was the king of the gambling world in land-based casinos. While it still enjoys the largest amount of real estate on the casino floor in major gaming arenas like Las Vegas, it’s no longer the largest revenue generator among table games.

According to a study conducted by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, the presence of casino blackjack tables has declined 26% in the last three decades.

Craps, which was once the second most popular table game among casinos, has also fallen. Conversely, both roulette and baccarat have become more popular, with the latter generating the highest yield among the “big four”.

Casino Blackjack No Longer King in Vegas

Researchers compiled table game statistics and revenue data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board between 1985 and 2016. They calculated data pertaining to gaming floor space between the most popular casino table games, and the “overall casino performance” (revenue) of each game.

What they discovered was that Twenty-One (blackjack) is no longer the undisputed king of the Vegas mountain.

Blackjack

Casino Blackjack Popularity & Revenue DownIn 1985, casino blackjack made up 77% of all table games. It was so popular, it accounted for more than 50% of the overall table games revenue in the region. By 2016, however, blackjack tables made up just 50% of the floor, and their value had dipped dramatically to 29% of overall table game win.

Craps

Craps—although never nearly as popular as blackjack—also suffered a striking decline in popularity. Craps was generating more than 28% of casino table revenue in 1985, falling to just 8.8% in 2016.

Baccarat

In the meantime, baccarat’s popularity has surged, likely attributed to the influx of Asian gamblers making their way to North American casinos.

Where baccarat accounted for about 2.5% of overall table game space in 1985, it’s steadily risen to cover just over 12% of the floors in 2016. In terms of revenue generation, baccarat climbed from 13.6% of overall table revenue in 1985 and peaked at 46.8% in 2013, before sloping back to 39.7% in 2016.

Comparatively speaking, baccarat now accounts for about 40% of total table gaming revenue in Vegas, while casino blackjack only generates 29%. Thus baccarat is the new king of table games.

Roulette

Roulette has also experienced a notable increase in popularity among Las Vegas gamblers, though the change isn’t nearly so dramatic. Roulette’s presence has elevated from 6.6% to 9.6% in the last three decades, with revenue following almost the exact same scale; up from 6.6% to 9.5% overall.

Is Online Gambling To Blame?

Clearly, today’s gamblers aren’t following the same trends as past generations. But they aren’t the only thing that’s changing. The way we gamble has undergone dramatic alterations as well.

Internet gambling came along in the mid-1990s, and has grown exponentially over the last two decades. Casino blackjack continues to be one of the highest grossing games in the digital realm, right up there with Texas Holdem poker.

Could it be that blackjack fans are more inclined to play online, while high-rolling baccarat aficionados prefer to play in person? Whatever the root cause may be, it’s clear that casino blackjack has been dethroned as the most popular table game for land-based gambling.

Casino operators are going to have to accept this fate sooner or later. Blackjack tables may still account for half the floor space, but when they bring in little more than a quarter of the revenue, something has to give.

As the study’s authors were quick to point out, “Games are only as useful as the amount of revenue they produce.”

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