The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, passed by the US Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, was a $1.9 trillion stimulus spending package designed to speed up the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 stimulus was primarily used to extend and expand unemployment benefits, provide $1,400 direct payments to many US residents, provide emergency paid leave, cover tax credits, and increase food stamp benefits.
But critics of the spending scheme say much of the money went to programs that Congress did not intend. One such questionable example is $350K being used by the City of Las Vegas to develop a marketing program for the downtown area.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Las Vegas used some of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to bankroll an advertising campaign for the Downtown Vegas Alliance (DVA). The marketing initiative draws attention to the downtown area’s abundance of entertainment, job opportunities, and living options.
The nonprofit organization consists of more than 70 local businesses collectively working to create “an attractive, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable downtown Las Vegas.”
While many outsiders think of the Las Vegas Strip as part of the City of Las Vegas, the Strip is actually located in an unincorporated part of Clark County south of the city proper.
‘Down for Anything’ in Downtown Las Vegas
The DVA reportedly spent $350K to develop “Down for Anything,” a marketing call to action highlighting what the downtown area has to offer to visitors and residents in Southern Nevada. The campaign’s online website, www.playcation.vegas, features a slew of possible itineraries and an interactive map displaying things to see and do.
The City of Las Vegas partially funds the DVA. Las Vegas-based advertising agency Robertson and Partners developed the “Down for Anything” and a subsequent campaign, “Down for Play,” with $350K.
The “Down for Play” travel and staycation guides offer customizable plans for entertainment, eating and drinking, innovation, culture, history, style, and living.
We’re creating ideas for people who have their interest piqued from the ‘Down for Anything’ campaign. We’re actually giving them the tools to be able to enjoy downtown in a way that strategically makes sense,” Carolyn Wheeler, executive director of the DVA, told the RJ.
The COVID funds being used for marketing downtown Las Vegas will be an investment that ideally delivers a significant return. That’s according to City of Las Vegas Communications Director David Riggleman.
“The hope is that as people look to return to pre-pandemic life, they will consider the downtown as a place to not only visit for entertainment but to live and work,” Riggleman explained. “Downtown Las Vegas is so unique and offers such a diverse range of options for the public to consider.”
Downtown Casinos Rebound
Downtown Las Vegas casinos have already fully recovered from the pandemic, at least in terms of gaming revenue. Downtown casinos won over $880.1 million last year, a 4.5% increase from 2021 and nearly 90% higher than the gaming properties won during pandemic-stricken 2020.
The $880.1 million is also considerably higher than the $684.9 million that the downtown Las Vegas casinos won in 2019. Downtown’s 2022 gross gaming revenue was 28.5% richer than the year before the coronavirus.
The $880.1 million is above 2019’s GGR incurred downtown despite inflation factoring in.
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