First, the bad news about March’s casino gaming win: Numbers were flat against March 2018.
Now, the good news: They were flat to the tune of $1.022 billion.
According to data released Thursday by the state Gaming Control Board: It was the second straight month gaming win — the total won by casinos against players for slot machines, table games and race and sports pools — exceeded $1 billion. It also was the highest performance of 2019 so far.
But it was also the second straight month that win dipped by less than a percentage point against the same month of the previous year.
Locally, Clark County win was down 0.61 percent to $882.8 million while the Strip showed a 3.83 percent decline to $551.9 million.
Laughlin’s numbers also were down (4.23 percent to $49.6 million) but every other Southern Nevada subregion was in positive territory against March 2018 numbers.
The Boulder Strip soared 8.92 percent to $70.4 million, Downtown Las Vegas was up 8.66 percent to $58.7 million, North Las Vegas climbed 8.59 percent to $25.9 million and Mesquite was up 8.08 percent to $14.2 million.
It was 42nd time the state has recorded more than $1 billion in monthly win, a level first achieved in March 2005. The highest monthly win ever came in October 2007 when the state recorded $1.165 billion.
Baccarat play was again the big culprit in the decline.
“Baccarat win, which totaled $53.6 million was down 54.3 percent, or $63.6 million,” said Michael Lawton, senior market analyst for the Control Board’s Administration Division. “Volumes were down significantly compared to last year. Baccarat volume totaled $484.3 million, which was down $351.5 million or 42.1 percent. Excluding baccarat, the state would have increased 6.9 percent in total win.”
J.P. Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff also noted that the low baccarat numbers were exacerbated by a tough comparison against last year and that gamblers played lucky against the casinos. In a note to investors Thursday, Greff said baccarat hold was 10.9 percent compared with the historical average of 13 percent to 14 percent. Drop decreased 42.9 percent year over year compared with a 115 percent increase in 2018.
Other casino games picked up the slack.
Roulette win of $41.7 million was the second highest in history, up 43.5 percent.
March Madness and the closeout of the National Basketball Association season paced sports betting handle with a record $495.1 million in basketball bets written.
It was the first time since March 2004 that sports betting surpassed baccarat volume.
Casinos won $32.5 million in sports bets, down 4.8 percent from a year ago. The sports pool drop was up 14.4 percent to $596.8 million for the month.
The three-month gaming revenue trend, generally a more telling gauge of win activity because it eliminates volatile swings resulting from calendar comparisons, showed a bigger decline for the months of January, February and March, off 1.25 percent.
On the Strip, the three-month trend is down 3.25 percent while downtown Las Vegas is up 3.08 percent.