How low can they go?

So, how about that economic recovery? They say it’s happening—and key indicators like higher gambling wins and increased visitation seem to support the premise—but I’m not so sure. Why? Because an even more important indicator says otherwise. A reliable constant in Las Vegas marketing has always been tough times bring low room rates. Lowering rates to put people in rooms is Survival 101. So if hotel rooms are cheap, it’s highly probable that the joints are still scratchin’.

Last week, the Las Vegas Advisor checked rates at 95 area hotels. You be the judge.

This year 58 casinos had rates of $50 or less. That’s more than 60 percent of the total sample. More telling, it’s five more than the 2011 total. In fact, rates are lower this year than last right down the line. In 2012, 45 casinos have had rates of $40 or less, compared with 39 in 2011. The total at $30 and less was 30, compared with 24. And at the lowest level of $20 or less, there were four both years (though last year’s low of $11 beat this year’s $17 at El Cortez).

It’s not just downtowners and outliers that are running low. The rate was $50 at Paris, $44 at New York-New York, $35 at Bally’s and Flamingo, $34 at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, $30 at Luxor, $28 at Harrah’s, $27 at the Riv, $23 at Imperial Palace and $21 at Excalibur—all Strip resorts. Then there are the gems like the Palms for $48, the Golden Nugget for $45 and the Rio, amazingly, for $20 per night. The Palms number is 51 percent below last year’s rate; Paris is 56 percent below.

Want more? Check out the high-end places: MGM $52, Monte Carlo $52, Aliante Station $55, Planet Hollywood $59, Mirage $60, TI $64, Hard Rock $69, Palms Place $69, Mandalay Bay $72, Aria $83, Caesars Palace $75, Red Rock Resort $88, THEhotel $88, Trump $89, Vdara $99, MGM Signature $108, Wynn $116, Encore $122, Cosmo $128, Palazzo $129, Venetian $129, Bellagio $139, Mandarin Oriental $175 and Four Seasons $179. Some of these are priced 30 percent below last year’s lowest rates.

Keep in mind that this list portrays the absolute lowest rate found, even if it was available for a single day in July, so you may not be able to duplicate these numbers exactly. Also, these rates don’t include “resort fees” where applicable, so some are higher than listed. Still, the list serves as a good road map that points you in the right direction for bargains.

What does it all mean? Two things. First, as mentioned above, we’re not quite out of the woods yet on the financial front. And second, rooms are darn cheap in Vegas. Tell your friends. Heck, tell your spouse. Now might be time for that deal on a staycation.