Report shows blackjack’s popularity has plummeted in the three decades since 1987

  • The transition from traditional land-based casinos to online operators may have played a part in blackjack’s decline
  • Meanwhile, baccarat’s popularity has skyrocketed since 2005

A report released by the Center for Gaming Research, UNLV looking into the evolution of casino games on the Las Vegas Strip has indicated a decline in popularity for some of the casino world’s most recognised table games.

blackjack downturn in Las Vegas

In an era defined by technological advances, the popularity of handheld devices and an ever increasing dependence on the internet, the rise in popularity of online gambling and slot machine games should be somewhat unsurprising.

But the cost of this growth, according the report more heavily impacts more traditional, land-based casino games such as baccarat and craps. However, perhaps the most heavily hit by the upsurge in online gambling is blackjack, the popularity of which is estimated to have dropped by around 25 percent during the past three decades.

A thing of the past?

Thirty years ago in 1987, everybody knew that Las Vegas ruled the land based casino industry and that Atlantic City was second in command. But as the industry developed its online sector, so too did bettors turn their attentions to the internet – despite the efforts of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

It is also reported that growth regions such as Macau and Singapore have further shifted the focus away from Las Vegas and Atlantic City in more recent years.

To return once more to 1987, the report notes that blackjack took away a unit share of almost 76% of all casino games played throughout that year. Second to blackjack was craps, which was some way behind with a share of just under 11%.

The latest news, however, indicates a significant change with blackjack’s figures now standing at approximately 51%, after falling consistently, year on year, for 30 years.

Having dropped by over a quarter in the 30 years between the 1987 and now, blackjack’s decline in popularity on The Strip is considerable. That’s not to mention that in 2016, blackjack accounted for just 29 percent of table wins at land-based casinos.

You win some you lose some

The real kick to blackjack’s popularity seems to stem from the fact that many online casinos offer players the chance to play for real money with the added bonus of playing from the comfort of their own homes.

But although blackjack has had a bout of bad luck, not all games are suffering at the expense of online casinos. Baccarat’s popularity is reported to have quadrupled since 2005 – which, incidentally, is when blackjack’s began to fall.

Roulette’s popularity has also climbed between the mid-1980s and today, rising from a unit share of 6.6% in 1985 to just over 10% in 2016.

Similarly, whereas the remaining portion of other casino games accounted for just 3.14 percent of unit share in 1985, they now stand at just under 20 percent.

The future of gambling

Statistics suggest that blackjack is set to remain in its downward spiral for some time, as land-based casinos and card rooms begin to allegedly “lose faith” in the game.

With slot game developers exploring new immersive gameplay and ways to appeal to a younger generation of bettors, casinos are seemingly less willing to use blackjack as their main lure.

Instead, many are using games such as Texas Hold’em poker, Pai Gow poker, and Mini-Baccarat as alternative player bait. Baccarat is even gaining physical floor space at some land-based casinos.

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