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Numerous gaming win records fell in December, Control Board says

Updated January 31, 2024 - 10:36 pm

So much for a holiday lull.

Several all-time gaming revenue records fell in December, a month notoriously slow for the industry, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.

The huge monthly jump was attributed to a robust special events calendar and two new casinos joining the market.

And, while visitation to Las Vegas was higher than in December 2022, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, it didn’t approach a record — but the number of passengers using Harry Reid International Airport did.

The Clark County Department of Aviation reported late Wednesday that 4.8 million passengers went in and out of the airport in December, a record for the month and 10.2 percent more than in December 2022.

More records set

The state’s gaming win was uncharacteristically big.

Records were set for gaming win statewide ($1.433 billion, a 9 percent increase over last year), in Clark County ($1.27 billion, a 9.7 percent increase over December 2022) and the Strip ($905.4 million, an 11.2 percent increase over last year).

The state and Strip records beat previous highs in July 2023 and for Clark County, in November 2023, the month the inaugural Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix was held.

It was the 34th straight month that the state has recorded $1 billion or more in monthly gaming win.

The record performance was the cherry on top of 2023, with gaming win hitting its third straight record by calendar year.

While Strip win was most impressive and carried the state by accounting for 90.3 percent of 2023’s $679.3 million growth over 2022, records fell in other submarkets. For 2023, record win occurred in downtown Las Vegas, Mesquite, outlying Clark County, Sparks, Elko County, Wendover and outlying Elko County.

Two new properties that opened in December — Durango and Fontainebleau — contributed to the late boost in numbers, but Michael Lawton, the Control Board’s senior economic analyst who crunches gaming numbers for the state, said it was the steady calendar of special events that helped drive greater levels of gambling.

In addition to the National Finals Rodeo and all the country music entertainment surrounding it, Lawton cited Garth Brooks residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace Dec. 1-16, U2’s eight dates at the Sphere, the NBA’s first-ever in-season tournament semifinals and final at T-Mobile Arena, two home dates for the Las Vegas Raiders, UFC 296, which featured a welterweight title fight between Colby Covington and Leon Edwards, and a Bruno Mars concert at Park MGM Dec. 22.

December visitation up from 2022

Visitation numbers for December reported last week by the convention authority were higher than in 2022, but nowhere close to records.

The LVCVA reported 3.4 million visitors, a 2.7 percent increase over December 2022, but convention attendance was down 11 percent from last year to 195,700 for the month.

Local resorts managed to keep room rates high in December and occupancy rates improved from last year. Rooms averaged $186.82 a night in December — $198.83 on the Strip and $104.64 in downtown Las Vegas — while hotel occupancy was up 0.8 percentage points to 79.9 percent for the month.

Historically, December had been a month to take rooms offline for repairs with shows going dark during the holidays. That trend seems to have disappeared with record gaming numbers posted.

But at Reid Airport, records continued to fall with a 31.3 percent increase in international traffic for the month to 281,842 passengers. There were 4.5 million domestic passengers, with market leader Southwest Airlines carrying 1.9 million of them, a 35.5 percent increase for the month.

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines also had double-digit percentage increases for the month while international fliers Aeromexico, Air Canada, Copa, Eurowings, Flair, KLM, Korean Air, Vivaaerobus, Volaris and Westjet also had big increases.

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

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