Nevada on record gaming-revenue pace as Las Vegas visitation and hotel occupancy continue to build

August 30, 2023 9:09 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
August 30, 2023 9:09 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

Nevada is holding steady for record gaming revenue, with Las Vegas visitation running 8% higher than 2022. Moreover, it’s expected to swell with the start of football season and the inaugural Formula One race on the Strip in November.

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Las Vegas’ occupancy in July was the highest since prior to the pandemic, helping Nevada set an all-time monthly record of $1.4 billion in gaming revenue, while the Strip set an all-time record at $834.8 million. Strip gaming revenue is 6.5% higher year over year through the first seven months of 2023.

The 3.52 million visitors in July were 1% higher than 2022’s 3.49 million visitors, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The total is still 4.3% below July 2019 levels, which indicates room to grow.

Year to date, the 23.85 million visitors are up from 22.07 million through the first seven months of 2022.

There’s a lot of upside to the rest of the year with the opening of the Sphere entertainment venue in September and the Global Gaming Expo in October as well.

“As we enter the back half of 2023, Nevada is looking very good in terms of finishing the year ahead of 2022,” said Michael Lawton, a senior economic analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. “Every market in southern Nevada is currently up year over year, with the Las Vegas Strip leading the way. With the upcoming special events on the calendar, which include the opening of the Sphere, NFL football, and of course F1, another record gaming win for a calendar year is becoming a strong possibility.”

Harry Reid International Airport reported its third highest passenger count in history in July, aided by international travelers. The 290,546 passengers from abroad were the most since January 2020 prior to the pandemic, when there were 309,091 passengers. For the year, international travel is 41.4% higher than 2022.

That boost in international visitors caught the attention of Oliver Lovat, CEO of the Denstone Group, who said foreign visitors contributed to the success in July.

Baccarat, a favorite game among many international visitors, recorded a win of $193.3 million, sixth highest all-time.

Lovat also credited the events calendar that was packed with musical performances, UFC and boxing matches, and international soccer games, including the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal and a USA Tour 2023 game.

“This is the summer when international tourism finally came back,” Lovat said.

Josh Swissman, founding partner of GMA Consulting, said July gaming revenues are a reflection on Las Vegas drawing visitors for entertainment, such as Usher and Garth Brooks residencies. The strong July follows a mixed showing in June.

“It shows Vegas is very much an entertainment-driven city,” Swissman said. “As you book more entertainment, you see more visitation and as you see more visitation, you see more gaming revenue. It’s tremendous that July was the biggest gaming month on record when you consider how big other months are, like February with the Super Bowl. Given all the cool entertainment we have coming in the fall, that triple charges everything.”

Drive-in traffic from Southern California fell sharply last month during the record heat. The 49,727 average daily passengers on I-15 at the Nevada border fell 5.4% from July 2022.

Hotel occupancy for the month reached 85.2% in July, a 1.8% gain over July 2022. It’s still below the 91.1% occupancy in July 2019.

Weekend occupancy was 92.6%, an increase of 1.5% year over year. Midweek occupancy reached 82.2%, surpassing July by 3.1%.

Strip occupancy was 88.1% in July, up from 86.3% in July 2022. Downtown occupancy was 67%, up from 66.5%.
The strong occupancy led to a slight increase in the average daily room rate in July to $163, up from $160 a year ago, a 1.7% gain. Revenue per room was $139, a 3.9% increase.

Visitation in July was driven by tourists, as convention attendance dropped 16.8% year over year to 270,300. It’s down 46% compared to 2019. There were 17 conventions in July compared to 23 in July 2022.