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With Nevada casinos closed, how much in winnings have disappeared?

Updated April 19, 2020 - 8:07 am

We know it’s bad, but just how much money are the state’s closed casinos losing every day as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?

Based on win data from the state Gaming Control Board, the total ranges from nearly $42,000 a day for each casino in small markets like Mesquite to nearly $700,000 a day at each of the largest Strip properties.

Declines in gaming win represent lost jobs for hundreds of thousands of people and a severe loss of tax revenue that pays for everything from education and health care to parks and police.

Based on calculations of win from slot machines, table games and racebooks and sportsbooks at Nevada’s 457 licensed nonrestricted casinos — properties with more than 15 slot machines — the average amount won between March 1, 2019, and Feb. 29 was $72,435 a day over 366 days.

That amount is only for casino games of chance and doesn’t include revenue from hotel rooms, food and beverage, retail, entertainment and other amenities.

Jeremy Aguero, an economist with Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis, said that on average, Clark County casinos generate 34.3 percent of resort revenue, with 27.2 percent coming from hotel rooms, 17.4 percent from food, 8.4 percent from beverage and 12.7 percent from entertainment, retail and other amenities.

The so-called “burn rate” — the amount calculated that properties lose every day — is much higher and varies from resort to resort because some companies are paying their employees through the closure period while others are paying percentages of paychecks or furloughing workers.

The Control Board gaming win figures are posted on its website monthly and are tabulated by one-month, three-month and 12-month periods.

Gross gaming win is important because the state’s gaming tax is calculated based on a percentage of win, with the largest revenue generators paying 6.75 percent to the state. Smaller operations pay a lower percentage. Gaming tax revenue goes to the state’s general fund to support government functions from schools to public safety.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much casinos are losing in the more than a month they’re going to be closed.

The 12-month win totals offer a snapshot of how much casinos took from gamblers in their various games. The Control Board breaks down win in 19 geographic markets and statewide.

Some of the markets overlap. For example, the Control Board tabulates win in Clark County and further breaks down totals for the Las Vegas Strip, downtown Las Vegas, the Boulder Strip, North Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite and the balance of the county.

In some of those geographic markets, like the Strip, the board totals win for the entire market, properties with more than $1 million in revenue, properties with between $12 million and $36 million in revenue, properties with between $36 million and $72 million in revenue, and properties with more than $72 million in revenue.

The board won’t identify revenue from properties by name, but it will say how many of them are in each category.

For example, on the Strip there are 51 licensees, which won $6.632 billion from players from March 1, 2019, to Feb. 29. That breaks down to $18.1 million per day. That means each of the resorts, on average, won $355,288 a day.

The breakdown of the largest Strip resorts — those that generated $72 million or more monthly — won $6.141 billion, or $16.8 million per day. There are 24 resorts in that category, resulting in an average win of $699,118 per property, per day.

It’s difficult to tabulate how much casinos would have won during the shutdown period. Compared with the previous year, Strip resorts were generating 1.2 percent more win than they had through Feb. 29.

Unlike 2018, Strip resorts enjoyed the massive once-every-three-years arrival of ConExpo-Con/Agg in March, but they missed out on the annual National Association of Broadcasters trade show in April. Both normally bring tens of thousands of people to Las Vegas — many of whom play in the casinos.

The state’s March numbers will be reported by the Control Board in late April, and that’s where the statistical dropoff will begin. Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos closed on March 17.

The April numbers will be published at the end of May. While many markets could show zero revenue in April, others might have minimal amounts thanks to online sports wagering. The major sports leagues are not playing, but some companies are taking bets on such offbeat sports as pingpong and sumo wrestling.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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