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Gaming win declines 3.2% — but don’t fret about the downturn

Updated April 25, 2023 - 7:27 pm

State gaming win fell by 3.2 percent in March compared with a year ago, but the state’s record of consecutive months winning in excess of $1 billion remains intact, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Tuesday.

Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Control Board, said the downturn is more about a tough comparison with a good month than an overall decline.

Statewide, Nevada’s 441 major licensed casinos won $1.31 billion from players — the second-best March in history and the 25th straight month the win has exceeded $1 billion. That compared with $1.36 billion won in March 2022 — the second-best month for gaming win in Nevada history behind July 2021.

Lawton said industry watchers should get used to that because similar tough comparisons are on the horizon.

Casinos have had either their best or second-best months in history in the 12 months since March 2022.

Las Vegas-based gaming industry analyst John DeCree of CBRE Equity Research said a combination of luck and difficult comparisons shaped March.

“While July 2021 benefited from stimulus and the initial reopening from the pandemic, March 2022 also experienced some pent-up demand from Omicron disruption in January and February,” DeCree said in a report to investors. “Adding to the unfavorable comparison, the Strip held very lucky in baccarat in March 2022 while record snowfall significantly disrupted Northern Nevada casinos in March 2023.”

More positives

The January-through-March period was the highest quarterly performance in history, beating the fourth quarter of 2022. In addition, gaming tax fee collections from March, through Monday, were the highest amount of the current fiscal year at $97.4 million. Nevada’s 6.75 percent tax on gaming revenue goes to the state’s general fund. Through the nine months of the fiscal year, gaming has contributed $819.5 million in percentage taxes, which is 1.3 percent ahead of the previous fiscal year.

Clark County casinos won $1 billion for the 11th straight month but were down 2.5 percent from a year ago. Downtown Las Vegas, Mesquite and outlying areas of Clark County were the only submarkets in Southern Nevada that had better win totals this year than in March 2022.

Wintry weather resulted in downturns in all but one Northern Nevada market in March, but the eastern Nevada submarkets of Wendover and Elko County showed some of the best year-over-year improvements in the state.

In Clark County, win totaled $1.15 billion, with $724.6 million coming from the Strip (down 2.9 percent), $87.4 million from downtown Las Vegas (up 1.2 percent) and the Boulder Strip, $86.3 million (down 10.8 percent). North Las Vegas win was off 1.4 percent to $26.8 million. Laughlin was down 2.4 percent to $48.6 million, and Mesquite was up 3 percent to $18.9 million.

A packed calendar

A packed sports and entertainment calendar boosted tourism and gaming win in March.

There were multiple NCAA basketball tournament games, the return of NASCAR to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a heavyweight UFC championship fight between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane, and the once-every-three-years ConExpo-Con/Agg construction industry trade show attended by 139,000 people at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

And concerts occurred every weekend with Keith Urban, Jimmy Buffett, Stevie Nicks, John Mellencamp, Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift taking the stage at various venues.

Slot machine play paced the gaming floor with a record $906.5 million won by casinos on a 4.6 percent coin-in increase to $12.5 billion. The previous slot win high was in March 2022 at $903 million. The percentage slot machines won from players was 7.26 percent compared with 7.49 percent a year ago.

Slot win of $422.3 million and coin-in totals of $5.2 billion represent all-time records for the Strip, beating the previous records set in October.

Table-game win of $405.6 million decreased 10.3 percent, compared with a year ago, while table game drop was flat at $3.1 billion. Tables held 13.1 percent this year compared with 14.6 percent in March last year.

Baccarat win of $64.5 million decreased by 51.1 percent while the drop of $623 million was down 5.6 percent from March 2022. Baccarat players were luckier this year with a 10.4 percent hold percentage compared with 20 percent last year.

Nevada sportsbooks won $43.9 million, up 18.8 percent from March 2022. The amount wagered was $829.8 million, down 3.8 percent and the hold percentage was 5.3 percent compared with 4.3 percent a year ago.

Sports bettors wagered $531.7 million online, down 8.7 percent from a year ago, and represented 64.1 percent of all sports wagers.

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

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