Baccarat Dethrones Blackjack as King of the Strip

British super spy James Bond helped glamorize baccarat on the silver screen a half century ago but it hasn't been until recent years that the card game popular among Asian high rollers began drawing attention in Las Vegas.

Nevada had only 59 baccarat tables in 1992 but that figure jumped nearly five times to 278 as of last year, the UNLV Center for Gaming Research reported. The baccarat win amounts enjoyed by casinos likewise jumped from $291.2 million to $1.37 billion during that span.

This increase, coupled with the declining popularity of other casino games, has been so dramatic that it has caused a radical shift in the sources of gaming revenue on the Las Vegas Strip.

Gaming research center data shows that among Strip resorts blackjack accounted for slightly more than half of table game revenue in 1985 but only 23.6 percent in 2012. Craps went from a 28 percent share of the revenue in 1985 to only 8.9 percent last year.

Whereas blackjack represented more than three-quarters of Strip table games in 1985, that figure was down to 50.5 percent by last year.

Baccarat, though, saw its share of Strip table game revenue skyrocket from 13.6 percent in 1985 to 43.9 percent in 2012. Although baccarat accounts for only 10 percent of table games on the Strip, it replaced blackjack as the top revenue generator in 2009 and has since widened that lead.

In addition to blackjack and craps, other games on the Strip that are disappearing include the card games Caribbean Stud Poker and Let It Ride.

An old standby that is hanging in there, though, is roulette. There were 45 more roulette tables on the Strip in 2012 than in 2002, and its share of table game revenue grew from 6.6 percent in 1985 to 10.2 percent last year.


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