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Is $1B monthly gaming win the new normal for Nevada?

Updated March 28, 2023 - 6:39 pm

Nevada’s casino gaming win increased by double-digit percentages again in February, marking two years in which state gaming operations collected more than $1 billion a month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Tuesday.

Clark County casinos alone surpassed $1 billion for the 10th straight month, building a streak of its own.

The Control Board reported win of $1.24 billion in February, an 11.2 percent increase from February 2022.

Of the 20 submarkets monitored by the Control Board, six — all in snow-affected Northern Nevada — had lower revenue in February than a year earlier. Washoe County, Reno, North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe were among the submarkets with declines. Sparks win was up 4.9 percent, thanks to a new casino property in the market.

Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Control Board, said after 24 months of $1 billion-plus win for the state, the figure has become the new normal.

“I think after 24 consecutive months you could safely say it is,” Lawton said in an email. “Obviously there is a lot of economic uncertainty, however that uncertainty has not spilled over into the record gaming win amounts we have witnessed over the last two years.”

Watching county numbers

Lawton said the state agency would continue to watch Clark County’s gaming win to see if its 217 casinos can maintain a $1 billion level.

“Clark County has recorded over $1 billion in 10 consecutive months and in 17 out of the last 24 months,” he said. “The Strip in December of 2022 recorded a win amount of $814.2 million which was the all-time record for the market. I think there is interest if the Strip on its own could hit the billion-dollar amount.”

In February, Clark County win represented 87.4 percent of the state’s total win with the Strip having 57.6 percent of the state’s total.

For the calendar year, gaming win is up 14.5 percent statewide. On the Strip, it’s up 22.2 percent.

Much of the February increases were the result of casinos playing luckier than their customers.

Slot win of $822.8 million increased 7.6 percent over last year, with coin-in of $11.5 billion up 3.9 percent. The slot hold — the amount won by casinos — was up 7.2 percent compared with 6.9 percent last year.

Table and card game wins increased 18.8 percent with the drop — the amount wagered — down 0.7 percent to $2.8 billion. But casinos won 14.7 percent this year compared with 12.3 percent last year.

Baccarat win climbed 62.7 percent to $102.5 million with the drop increasing 18.6 percent to $696.8 million. The hold percentage was 14.7 percent in February compared with 10.7 percent last year.

Nevada sportsbooks won $41.2 million, up 33.5 percent from a year ago, even though the amount wagered was down 15.6 percent to $659.4 million. But sportsbooks had a hold percentage of 6.3 percent compared with 4 percent last year. Mobile sports wagers totaled $402.2 million, down 21.6 percent and accounted for 61 percent of all sports wagers.

Lawton noted the number of weekends in February was consistent with the number a year earlier. There were fewer special events on the Las Vegas calendar this year, with Lunar New Year celebrated in January compared to February last year.

Special events

Among the special events in February were Bruno Mars performing at Park MGM Feb. 1-14, Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, which drew thousands of bettors to Nevada on Feb. 12, and the opening of downtown Las Vegas’ Wildfire Fremont on Feb. 10.

Nasim Binesh, assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, said while gaming revenue continues to grow, it will have to tail off sometime.

“I anticipate that there will be ongoing growth in revenue over the next year as business travel and conventions have yet to fully rebound,” she said.

“The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Center recently published a report that supports this. The report shows the average spending on gambling has significantly increased, which could contribute to continued growth in the next year due to the ongoing recovery of business travel and conventions. However, I believe this growth is not sustainable in the long term, and we should expect the growth in gambling revenue to decrease and reach single digits within the next few years.”

Brendan Bussmann, gaming industry analyst with Las Vegas-based B Global, agreed there’s room for growth in the Las Vegas market, but there also are economic and geopolitical forces that could affect the city.

“We still do not have some of the foreign guests back, and the business customer is still returning, which will likely drive additional opportunity for gaming revenue,” he said. “There are still a number of headwinds with economic and geopolitical forces that could impact the current trends in revenue. With a recession pending, a potential banking crisis, and other factors, Nevada continues to prevail through these challenges but these and other factors could have an overall impact on Clark County and the rest of the state.”

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

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