LAS VEGAS -- The Las Vegas gaming industry, especially on the Strip, is always in a state of change so it can keep up with the times. But that isn't necessarily true for the other strip in Las Vegas.
Think of all the ways Las Vegas has changed since 1986. While Strip properties have continued to evolve to attract more visitors, not much has changed in the past 30 years at the so-called Boulder Strip properties. Is the neighborhood casino at risk of being left behind?
When members of the Killers rock band sang about growing up in Las Vegas, the Boulder Strip had a special place in their hearts and they put the name of one of its casinos, Sam's Town, on their album. That casino and Boulder Strip are not as well-known to Las Vegas visitors.
The Las Vegas Strip is internationally known. There are so many nightclubs and day clubs, casinos will have to start inventing parts of the day to come up with new ways for tourists to spend their money.
Since 1986, the Las Vegas Strip no longer earns a majority of its earnings through gaming. But the Boulder Strip keeps the same decades old business model and continues to pull in the customers.
"I like it here because it's nice and quiet and it's relaxing. They have great restaurants and some good machines," New Yorker Carol Konsol said.
It may not be the most exciting endorsement, but it draws in the locals. Mike Zchaikovsky lives down the street from Sam's Town. He still remembers going to the opening day in 1979.
"If you're a regular, they treat you just like Sam Walton's rule. Show them the value, and they'll always come back," Zchaikovsky said.
"It's the neighborhood place to be," said Paul Chakmak, Boyd Gaming's vice president.
Boyd Gaming and the other local casino operators stared bankruptcy in the face in the depths of the recession. While the Las Vegas Strip climbed back with Asian tourist gamers playing high-stakes baccarat, the Boulder Strip took the opposite course. The bingo room is always full. The low-limit table games keep people around for some time. And what locals casino isn't complete without a bowling alley? But there's one king of games on the floor -- the mighty and lucrative penny slot machines.
"Even in the toughest of times in Las Vegas, you saw the penny denomination slot product was really where the growth was, the only growth, in all honesty, in our business," Chakmak said.
The Boulder Strip has one of the longest legacies of gaming in Las Vegas. It may be using the same business model since 1986, but it serves a neighborhood of working class and retired Las Vegans who have called the city home since before 1986.
The Boulder Strip is betting on the future by respecting its past.
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