Coronavirus closures lead to a 99.6% percent decline in Nevada gaming revenues during April

Coronavirus closures lead to a 99.6% percent decline in Nevada gaming revenues during April

  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
May 29, 2020 8:20 PM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

We knew this was coming. But the figure, on its own, is striking.

$3.64 million.

That’s the amount Nevada casinos collected from customers during April according to the Gaming Control Board Friday.

Other than Internet poker and mobile sports wagering, Nevada casinos – shuttered since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic – took in zero dollars during the month. Several markets had negative totals.

Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said the negative amounts were “primarily due to winning sports wagers (football) from prior months which were paid to customers during the month of April.”

Lawton said mobile sports wagering on the NFL Draft at the end of April “could have also resulted in losses as well in football.”

Strip casinos accounted for $3.39 million of the state’s overall total. Reno gaming properties recorded a nearly $64,400 decline during the month, the largest for any individual reporting market in the state. Downtown Las Vegas casinos had $436,200 in gaming revenues during April.

In Las Vegas, tourism fell 97% to just 106,900 visitors, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Friday. A year ago, April 2019 brought in more than 3.54 million visitors. LVCVA Vice President of Research Kevin Bagger estimated the visitors stayed with friends or relatives and the figures accounted for people who stayed in non-gaming properties that remained opened “for essential transient lodging.”

Global travel restrictions and stay-at-home-orders in place due to COVID-19 kept visitation to “a small fraction of normal levels,” Bagger said in an email. There were zero conventions held during the month of April.

In April 2019, Nevada casinos collected $936.4 million from gamblers. Translation: April 2020 was a 99.6% decline from a year ago. The Strip was down 99.3%.

Governor Steve Sisolak said Tuesday night that positive data trends in Nevada – state health officials said the percentage of those testing positive for COVID-19 have fallen for 30 straight days – gave him the confidence to reopen the state’s casino industry, starting next Thursday as part of the second phase in the state’s economic recovery.

Casinos will reopen under various health and safety guidelines and protocols for cleaning and disinfecting procedures, social distancing guidelines, temperature checks before entry, limitations on customer access, and reduced gaming.

Nevada collected $12 billion in gaming revenues in 2019 and $1 billion in both January and February, before the COVID-19 spread.

April’s total makes the statewide 40% gaming revenue decline in March look like a windfall. Casinos have also remained closed throughout May. Through April, statewide gaming revenues are down 31.7% compared to the first four months of 2019. The Strip is down 31.8% and Northern Nevada’s Washoe County, which, includes Reno, is down 31.8%.

The Control Board had to redact several portions of its monthly revenue report for April due to “statutory limitations regarding the confidentiality of financial records.”

Nevada has only one Internet poker website – which is operated by Caesars Entertainment – which why the state did not release the raw Internet poker numbers. Also, not all Nevada sportsbook operators kept their mobile betting sites active during the month.

In April, Caesars officials said the WSOP site had experienced a 45% increase in customer volume.

Gaming and tourism weren’t the only metrics in Nevada to take a hit during April.

At Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport, passenger volume fell 96.4% in April to 152,716 travelers, compared to more than 4.27 million airline passengers in April 2019. The flights were all domestic as international travel was shut down during the month.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.