Updated August 30, 2023 - 7:13 pm
When temperatures were hot, the state’s casinos were hotter.
Southern Nevada endured a record heat wave in July, and gamblers enriched the state’s casinos more than in any month in history, breaking monthly gaming win records statewide and on the Strip, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.
The state’s 439 licensed casinos won $1.4 billion from players in July, a 6.7 percent increase over a year ago when there were 453 casinos operating.
Clark County casinos won $1.2 billion from players and the Strip’s 60 licensees took $834.9 million of that, a record for that market.
Slot machine revenue, while not at record levels, paced win in July. Baccarat revenue also was strong thanks to lucky casino play.
“The Reader’s Digest version of what drove this month’s record win amounts is slot win, which although wasn’t an all-time record, it was the third-highest total all time for the state and the second-highest total for the Strip,” said Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Gaming Control Board who crunches the state’s monthly gaming statistics.
“Then, of course, the baccarat figures are incredibly strong albeit due to extremely elevated hold,” Lawton said. “Those baccarat totals led to the second highest game and table win totals all-time for the state and the Strip. When you put it all together, a new all-time record for the state and the Strip was established in July 2023.”
The previous record of $1.3 billion was set in July 2021.
Following national trends
The results come at a time when casinos nationwide are setting revenue records left and right.
Earlier this month, the American Gaming Association reported revenue of $16 billion for the quarter that ended June 30, beating last year’s second quarter by 8.1 percent. It was the industry’s second-best quarter in history, only trailing this year’s first quarter, and it was the 10th straight quarter of annual growth.
Because most gaming taxes are based on a percentage of generated revenue, Nevada’s general fund benefited from the big month.
The state collected $95.8 million in percentage fees from casinos through Tuesday, based on July win. That’s 5.9 percent ahead of last year’s pace.
For the first two months of the 2023-24 fiscal year, $176.9 million in gaming tax revenue — 5.4 percent more than last year — has been directed to Nevada’s general fund through the state’s maximum gaming tax rate of 6.75 percent.
Nevada continued to record gaming win amounts in excess of pre-pandemic levels in July. Statewide total win was 37 percent over July 2019. That month also represented the 29th consecutive month that the state has recorded more than $1 billion in monthly gaming win.
For the calendar year to date through July, Strip win is up 6.5 percent and the state is up 4.1 percent.
Big events success
As in past months, Lawton attributed the Strip’s success to an event-packed calendar.
In addition to the month’s Independence Day holiday that many visitors parlayed into a four-day weekend, several entertainment residencies and sports events were scheduled.
Usher’s residency returned to Dolby Live inside the Park MGM July 1-15. Garth Brooks’ Plus One residency resumed at the Colosseum inside Caesars Palace July 6-23.
UFC 290 was held at T-Mobile on Arena July 8 with the main event including a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodriguez. The CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal was played between Mexico and Jamaica at Allegiant Stadium on July 12. Showtime Championship Boxing featured a welterweight title fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. on July 29 at T-Mobile Arena. Allegiant Stadium hosted another soccer match on July 30 when England’s Manchester United faced Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in a USA Tour 2023 game.
But luck also played a role in the Strip’s success.
While baccarat volume was down, the hold — the percentage casinos won from players — was up. The Control Board reported baccarat win of $193.3 million, the sixth highest ever, up 40 percent over last year. Baccarat drop, the amount wagered, was down 1.4 percent to $822.1 million, but the hold of 23.52 percent was the highest since June 2003. A year ago, the hold percentage was 16.56 percent.
The state’s casinos also played lucky on table games, winning $513.1 million, a 7.7 percent increase over last year, and the second highest all time behind $531.4 million won in February 2013. Table drop decreased 1.6 percent from July 2022 to $2.9 billion, but the hold percentage was 17.62 percent, compared with 16.09 percent last year, the highest since April 2020.
Slot machines dominate
As usual, slot machines had the bulk of the win statewide, $890.8 million, an increase of 6.1 percent over last year. Coin-in was $12.5 billion, a 3.1 percent increase over July 2022, and the slot machine win percentage was 7.14 percent compared with 6.93 percent a year earlier.
The state’s sportsbooks won $25.3 million, up 55.7 percent from a year earlier. Sports bettors wagered $408.2 million, down 2.7 percent from last year, but casinos kept 6.19 percent of the wagers compared with 3.87 percent in July 2022.
Mobile wagers accounted for 65.7 percent of the total bet on sports, down 2 percent from a year ago.
Gaming industry analyst Brendan Bussmann of Las Vegas-based B Global, said despite economic headwinds, he’s encouraged about what’s in store for Las Vegas casinos in the months ahead.
“This sounds like a broken record but the trajectory will still continue and there may be a few bumps along the way,” Bussmann said in a Wednesday email. “While inflation has been tempered, it still is an issue.”