Nevada casinos just missed the $12 billion mark in statewide gaming revenues for 2018, but still recorded the Silver State’s third largest-ever calendar year total.
The Gaming Control Board said Thursday that Nevada gaming revenues were $11.9 billion, a 3 percent increase over 2017 and the state’s fourth straight year of gaming revenue increases. Nevada has experienced gaming revenue increases in eight of the last nine years.
The year was marked by five months in which revenues topped $1 billion – December’s statewide total just missed becoming the sixth month at that figure – and every reporting market in the state experienced an annual increase, the first time that result has been achieved since 2004.
“The growth we have been recording is widespread across the state, not just concentrated in a few select markets,” said Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton. “This is a testament to the mass market customer, which is once again driving the state’s gaming revenue growth.”
Las Vegas Strip gaming revenue grew 2 percent to $6.56 billion during 2018. Gaming revenue in Southern Nevada’s Clark County, which includes among its reporting areas the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, was up 2.7 percent, to $10.25 billion.
Northern Nevada’s Washoe County saw gaming revenues grow 4.4 percent to $865.7 million. Reno, the largest market in the county, was up 4.1 percent to $636.9 million. Reno’s year-end number was the city’s highest since 2008.
The statewide figure of $11.9 billion was the state’s third largest single-year total in history. Nevada casinos recorded revenues of $12.8 billion in 2007 and $12.6 billion in 2006.
Lawton said 2018’s results should roll into 2019 as the state anticipates increased visitation and convention attendance and as major hotel renovations on both the Strip and Reno are completed.
“Additionally, with the positive economic indicators that the state has been recording along with positive national economic trends, continued modest growth seems attainable,” Lawton said.
As for sports betting, Nevada sportsbooks collected a record $301 million in revenues, a 21 percent increase over 2017. Gamblers wagered $5.01 billion on sports in 2018, a single-year record in the state.
Lawton said Nevada’s sportsbook industry has benefited from the national focus given to legal sports wagering since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a federal ban on activity in May, paving the way seven states to add sports gambling operations by the end of the year.
The state’s legal sportsbooks, Lawton said, have received attention “on prime time shows (ESPN Bad Beats), national press stories and the unique experience Nevada casinos offer for sports betting, which includes the Super Bowl and March Madness.”
Nevada sportsbooks also saw handle increases from “In Play” wagering, where gamblers can place bets while a game is taking place through mobile devices, including smart phones and tablet personal computers.
The Gaming Control Board also released December’s gaming numbers Thursday and the year ended with the state just missing the $1 billion mark with $999.6 million, an increase of 4.1 percent.
While other markets grew in December, the Las Vegas Strip saw gaming revenue tumble less than 1 percent to $566.2 million. Analysts blamed results from high-end baccarat wagering for the slide during the month. Revenues from the game declined more than 14 percent, despite wagering increasing almost 19 percent.
Without baccarat, the Strip’s gaming revenues would have increased 3 percent.
“Bottom line, revenues were strong, with normalized mass market revenues up 4.7 percent,” said Credit Suisse gaming analyst Cameron McKnight.
In Reno, gaming revenue fell 2.6 percent in December to $53.9 million, but comparing to December 2017, when the market was up 10 percent.
Stifel gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski told investors he was upbeat on the near-to-intermediate-term prospects for the Reno market.
“We believe ongoing capital investment, business relocation and the resulting population growth should create a market capable of delivering superior gross gaming revenue growth as compared to the U.S. regional average,” Wieczynski said.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.