Nevada casino coffers roared back to life in October, recording the single-highest monthly revenue total in more than five years.
For the fifth time in 2018 – the first since May – Nevada casino revenues topped the $1 billion mark, reaching $1.062 billion, a nearly 7.5 percent increase compared to a year ago, according to figures released Tuesday by the Gaming Control Board.
The result marked the first time since 2008 that Nevada has seen five months of $1 billion or more in gaming revenue. The overall figure for October was the highest single-month total since February 2013.
Las Vegas Strip casinos grew gaming revenues 12.2 percent to $593.4 million, seemingly putting to rest any investment community concerns brought about by a slow summer period. October’s increase ended three straight monthly revenue decreases on the Strip.
Credit Suisse gaming analyst Cameron McKnight termed October “a good result” in a brief note to investors Tuesday. He said casino operators had flagged October as a strong month, following a “better than expected September.
However, attention was now turning toward the “tricky shoulder months” of November and December and the performance of the Las Vegas Strip over the New Year’s holiday.
Analysts suggested the October results were also helped by a weak comparison from a year ago. October 2017 gaming numbers fell as visitation declined in the weeks following the Oct. 1st shooting tragedy on the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas Strip results were boosted by interest in the Oct. 6 UFC championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor at the T-Mobile Arena.
Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said a boost in convention business added 50,000 more visitors to Las Vegas during October, “a solid start for the (fourth) quarter.”
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said Tuesday more than 3.68 million visitors came to Las Vegas in October, an increase of 2.1 percent from a year ago.
Beynon added that the two largest Las Vegas hotel operators – Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International – benefited from hotel room renovations at numerous properties. MGM, he said, was helped by the completion of the extensive Park MGM resort transition from its former Monte Carlo persona.
“These renovations plus an easy first quarter 2018 comparison, a better convention slate, and calendar should offer an acceleration to 2019 growth,” Beynon said.
On the Strip in October, overall gaming results grew despite an 11 percent slip in baccarat revenue. Casinos only held 8.8 percent of the wagers, compared to 15.2 percent a year ago and a 12-month average of 12.7 percent. However, baccarat wagering grew 53 percent during October.
Non-baccarat table games grew revenues 30.5 percent in October, with wagering up 8.8 percent. The figures helped Strip casinos soften the impact from the high-end play.
“This was a great month,” said Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton. “And it could have been even better.”
October also had one less Sunday than a year ago, which showed up in the overall sports betting results since it pushed a full slate of NFL games into November. Revenue of $29.5 million was down 6.1 percent and overall wagering was down 6.4 percent to $528.6 million.
Meanwhile, slot machine wagering on the Strip resulted in an 8.6 percent in revenues.
“Normalized mass market revenues are the best indicator of market growth and health as they include slot machines, which represent 50 percent of Las Vegas, and excludes the volatile baccarat business, in which only a handful of casinos participate,” McKnight wrote in his research note.
For the first 10 months of 2018, Nevada gaming revenue is up 2.6 percent with all reporting markets showing increases. Las Vegas Strip gaming revenue is up 1.6 percent.
Elsewhere in Nevada, casino revenues in Reno fell 2.7 percent. The overall decline in Washoe County, which includes Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe was 1.33 percent, the second straight monthly decrease.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.