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State gaming win down 99.6% in April with coronavirus closures

Updated May 29, 2020 - 9:59 am

Some analysts are viewing Friday’s release of April gaming win philosophically: Any number above zero is a positive. And, the numbers can’t go anywhere but up.

The state Gaming Control Board released a stunning recap of April gaming win showing a 99.6 percent decline statewide, 99.5 percent in Clark County and 99.3 percent on the Strip.

It was the lowest win total since records began being kept in 1983.

Casinos statewide were closed on March 17 to stop the spread of the coronavirus and remained closed through the entire month of April.

Revenue generated by casinos during the closure came from online poker play and bettors using mobile sports betting apps. Casinos won $3.6 million in April compared with $936.5 million in the same month a year earlier.

Actually, May numbers, which will be reported at the end of June, could be lower since casinos will still be closed when the month ends Sunday.

Unorthodox sports wagers

But in April and May, the Control Board gave permission to sportsbooks statewide to take wagers on unorthodox sports like table tennis, the Belarus Extraleague Hockey Finals, chess, European soccer and Other America’s soccer.

Players actually beat the house in some markets where casinos gave more to gamblers than they took in because they paid sports bets that had been decided earlier and refunded other bets — most notably any futures bets having to do with the NCAA basketball tournament.

Southern Nevada markets had a mix of revenue gains and losses.

On the Las Vegas Strip, gaming win was down 99.3 percent to $3.4 million and downtown Las Vegas was off 99.3 percent to $436,207. North Las Vegas casinos fell 99.99 percent to $2,617.

Losses in several markets

Other Southern Nevada markets were in negative territory. The Boulder Strip, down 100.07 percent paid $51,314 to players. Mesquite was off 100.04 percent to minus $5,277 and Laughlin fell 100.03 percent to minus $14,243.

Because so many statewide markets paid out more to players than they took in, the April report showed the unusual circumstance of Clark County winning more ($3.7 million) than the state ($3.6 million). It’s the first time that’s ever happened.

The market paying the most out to gamblers than it was taking in was Washoe County, down $78,633, 100.12 percent. By percentage, North Lake Tahoe was off 100.28 percent, or minus $3,681.

For the 10 months of the 2019-20 fiscal year, gaming win statewide is now down 11.4 percent to $8.755 billion. Because the state collects up to 6.75 percent of gaming win in taxes, collections in May for the April business period were down 99.96 percent to $19,107. That leaves the state at $598.2 million collected in 10 months, down 7.85 percent from the previous year.

Some information redacted

There were redactions in April’s monthly revenue report detailing win by game and slot-machine denominations.

“It was necessary to redact information contained in the detailed monthly revenue report for April 2020 in a manner that would adequately preserve the confidentiality of an individual licensee’s revenue,” said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Control Board.

Because few licensees operate poker and mobile sports betting apps, it would be easy for some analysts familiar with the market to determine how much an individual licensee made, figures that are supposed to be kept confidential by state statute.

Of the state’s 442 non-restricted licensees, 184 had no gaming activity.

“Licensees are required to file, however, if they filed with no gaming activity, zeros, they would not be included in the number of reporting licensees,” Lawton said.

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

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