Updated May 31, 2023 - 6:47 pm
Casino gaming win in Clark County in April ended its 11-month streak of winning $1 billion or more, but the state still managed to have its best April on record winning $1.16 billion from gamblers for the month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.
Nevada has recorded $1 billion in gaming win only five times in April, three of which have occurred since April 2021.
Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Control Board, warned when reporting March numbers that gaming win – the amount collected from players from the state’s major licensed casinos — would face tough comparisons throughout 2023 because casinos had either their best or second-best months in history in the 12 months since March 2022.
While some submarkets monitored by the Control Board showed weakness — Lake Tahoe markets were off by double-digit percentages in April — others had double-digit percentage improvements, including downtown Las Vegas, which was up 10.6 percent for the month to $74.5 million.
Clark County’s streak of 11 straight months of win above $1 billion ended when its 219 licensees won $995 million, a 3.6 percent increase over April 2022.
But strong performances on the Strip, downtown Las Vegas, the Boulder Strip and Sparks boosted the state to a 2.8 percent improvement over April 2022.
Ups and downs
There were different reasons for the market ups and downs.
Lawton said downtown’s big gain was the result of the timing of collections. Win totals at South Lake Tahoe also were affected by the timing of collections with win volume down 1 percent, while the hold percentage was down from 7.6 percent to 5.3 percent. The market has declined three straight months when wintry weather kept some customers away.
Sparks is still riding the wave of the opening of a new casino, Legends Bay, and Lawton predicted the trend would continue for the rest of the year.
At Lake Tahoe, Northshore win was down primarily because there’s one less casino operating. The Tahoe Biltmore, a fixture in Northern Nevada for nearly eight decades, closed its doors in April 2022. That reduced the number of licensees in the market from five to four and gaming win has been in decline for seven straight months.
But overall, Lawton said, most gaming markets are performing well above expectations. For the first four months of 2023, downtown win is up 10.4 percent, Strip win is up 10.7 percent and the state is up 6.6 percent compared with the first four months of 2022.
Strip drives statewide win
“Gaming win on the Las Vegas Strip continued to drive the statewide increase, as statewide gaming win excluding the Strip decreased by $5,000 and gaming win in Clark County excluding the Strip increased by just 1 percent, or $3.3 million,” Lawton said.
“Nevada continued to record gaming win amounts in excess of pre-pandemic levels this month,” he added. “This month also represented the 26th consecutive month that the state has recorded $1 billion in monthly gaming win.”
Lawton said the reason for the Strip’s success is no different than from previous months — a solid special events calendar.
He noted that the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed at Allegiant Stadium on April 1, Maroon 5 and Usher residencies played multiple dates in April at Park MGM and the National Association of Broadcasters had its massive convention at the Las Vegas Convention Center in mid-April. Also, T-Mobile Arena hosted Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia in a lightweight boxing match and the Vegas Golden Knights began their quest for the Stanley Cup against the Winnipeg Jets in April.
Within the casino, slot machines and sports wagering win increases offset table games and baccarat.
Slot win increased 4.2 percent to $837.9 million, with coin-in up 1.9 percent to $12 billion. Slot win percentage increased from 6.8 percent in April 2022 to 7 percent this year.
Nevada sportsbook win was up 27.8 percent to $32.4 million with the amount wagered up 2.7 percent to $598 million this year. Casinos had a 5.4 percent hold percentage compared with 4.4 percent last year. Mobile wagers totaled $395.2 million, down 7 percent from last year, and accounted for 66.1 percent of all sports bets.
Baccarat win declined 14.8 percent to $44.1 million despite the drop — the amount wagered — up 11 percent to $620.9 million. The decline was a result of the hold percentage falling to 7.1 percent from 9.3 percent a year ago.
Other table games win declined by just 0.8 percent to $321.8 million while the drop increased 2.4 percent to $2.7 billion. Game hold was 12.1 percent compared with 12.5 percent a year ago.
Gaming industry analyst Joe Greff of New York-based J.P. Morgan saw several positive comparisons with pre-pandemic 2019.
“April Las Vegas Strip gross gaming revenue of $625 million was 30 percent above 2019 levels, Las Vegas Locals GGR of $232 million increased 12 percent versus the 2019 period, and statewide (Strip, LV Locals, Reno, Tahoe and other) gaming revenues of $1.16 billion increased 24 percent versus 2019,” Greff said in a Wednesday report to investors.