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Did cyberattack cause Las Vegas visitation to dip in September?

Updated November 1, 2023 - 7:18 pm

The number of visitors to Las Vegas and hotel occupancy levels fell in September from last year, but the city’s resorts still managed to keep room rates high, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Tuesday.

An analyst said the decline could be the result of the cyberattack that crippled MGM Resorts International for nine days in September.

The LVCVA reported that Southern Nevada welcomed 3.3 million visitors during the month — slightly below the monthly average and the fourth highest monthly total of 2023.

Strip and weekend hotel occupancy rates fell slightly, with overall occupancy at 82.6 percent, down half a percentage point from September 2022.

But the average daily room rate topped $200 a night for the second time this year at $201.50, second only to March’s $213.25.

Convention attendance climbed 9.5 percent to 407,900 for the month. For the first three quarters of 2023, convention attendance rose 27.8 percent from last year to 4.6 million.

Transportation metrics monitored by the LVCVA were virtually flat year over year, with the number of passengers using Harry Reid International Airport up 0.7 percent to 4.8 million, the number of vehicles on major highways leading to Las Vegas up 0.2 percent to 123,571 a day on average, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation, and daily vehicle traffic at the California-Nevada border on Interstate 15 down 1.6 percent to 40,480.

“The estimated convention attendance for the month was up 9.5 percent, supported in part by the PACK Expo trade show with 32,000 attendees that rotated back into the destination since its last Vegas show in 2021,” said Kevin Bagger, vice president of the LVCVA Research Center.

Gaming industry analyst John DeCree of Las Vegas-based CBRE Equity Research said the dip in visitation may have occurred as a result of the high-profile cyberattack on MGM properties in September.

“The decline in occupancy and visitation could be partially attributed to the cyberattack, with MGM reporting its September occupancy of 88 percent (vs. 93 percent last year),” DeCree wrote in a note to investors Tuesday.

“Despite the moderate decline in visitors and occupancy, non-gaming spend remains strong,” DeCree said. “The Nevada Gaming Live Entertainment Tax (a flat 9 percent tax on ticket admission sales for live events) increased 21.7 percent year over year in the third quarter, including a record September. In spite of softer gaming volumes, this highlights strong consumer demand for experiential entertainment.”

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

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