Nevada’s gaming freight train gathers more steam in February

March 30, 2022 10:43 AM

Nevada’s gaming freight train gathers more steam in February

Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
March 30, 2022 10:43 AM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Nevada
  • Commercial Casinos
  • Sports Betting

Emerging from the omicron variant that slowed visitation in January, Nevada gaming revenues in February, driven by strong slot play and increased convention business, surpassed $1 billion for the 12th consecutive month and set an all-time record for the month.

Nevada’s non-restricted gaming licensees reported a total win of $1.11 billion in February, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This amounts to a 44.1% increase compared to February 2021, when licensees reported a gaming win of $772.5 million.

For the fiscal year (July 1, 2021, through February 28, 2022), gaming win has increased 56% from $6.1 billion to $9.5 billion. It’s 10% higher than February 2019 and 6.7% over February 2020.

Nevada casinos won $1.078 billion in January, 41.5% higher than January 2021 when it was $761.9 million.

Some 3.34 million passengers arrived and departed through Harry Reid International Airport in February, an 107% increase over the 1.61 million in February 2021. Passing through the airport in January were 3.14 million people.

By comparison, vehicle traffic from neighboring states was up 16% in February compared to February 2019.

Overall, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported 2.61 million visitors in February, up 79.6% in February 2020 when it was 1.54 million. Las Vegas had 3.18 million visitors in February 2019 prior to the pandemic, meaning February was 18% below that mark.

“Las Vegas Strip demand was resilient in light of ongoing omicron impacts during this time period,” said Joseph Greff, a gaming analyst with J.P. Morgan.

The Las Vegas Strip reported $599.1 million in gaming revenue in February, a 71.9% increase over the $348.4 million in February 2021. Deutsche Bank reported that was 1.2% higher than February 2019, prior to the pandemic, when it was $591.7 million. And it was the Strip’s third highest win total all-time in February.

Michael Lawton, a senior economic analyst for Nevada, said February’s results were supported “by an incredibly active entertainment and sports calendar” that included Garth Brooks, George Strait, Justin Bieber, Billy Joel, and Metallica on the musical front. In addition, Las Vegas hosted both the NHL All-Star Game, the NFL Pro Bowl, and the return of a traditional Super Bowl party atmosphere with COVID-19 mask requirements and restrictions lifted.

“These totals were attained without a strong Chinese New Year and they illustrate the underlying strength we are seeing from locals, domestic customers, and leisure travelers,” Lawton said. “They also emphasize the importance of what a strong event calendar, which now includes world-class sporting events, can do to drive gaming win. As you can see, this could possibly be the strongest event calendar I have seen in my 12 years analyzing gaming win in the state.”

February’s convention attendance of 439,000 was 41% below the 748,600 in February 2019 and that was reflected in midweek hotel occupancy of 60.7%, down from 84.6% in February 2019. The good news is that convention attendance was a 44% improvement from the 305,300 in January, when the omicron wave deterred visitation.

Overall hotel occupancy in February was 69%, below the 85.4% in February 2019. Weekend occupancy, however, was strong at 87.5%, just below the 91.9% occupancy in February 2019.

Strip occupancy was 71%, down from 88.3% in February 2019. Downtown had a 61.5% occupancy, down from 85.7% in 2019.

The average daily room rate on the Strip was $159.20, up from $140.05 in 2019. The downtown rate was $89.24, up from $69.19 in 2019.

Clark County as a whole recorded $949.8 million in revenue, a 50.3% increase over $631.6 million in February 2021.

Downtown Las Vegas reported $69.1 million in February, a 33.9% increase over $51.6 million in February 2021.

When calculating revenue from casinos frequented by Las Vegas residents, Deutsche Bank reported it was $223 million, 19.4% higher than the $186.8 million in February 2019.

Slot revenue helped drive the strong gaming numbers in February. Deutsche Bank reported the Strip had $336.5 million in slot revenue in February, a 25.4% increase over $268.3 million in February 2019. The handle was $4.3 billion, a gain of 31.7%.

The Strip took a hit on table-game revenue, down 20.1%, even though handle fell only 7.3% compared to 2019. Baccarat revenue fell more than 52% to 62.1 million compared to pre-pandemic. Baccarat drop was down more than 44% to $565.1 million compared to 2019. The decline could be attributed to a lack of international visitors, with only about 100,000 passengers from abroad arriving and departing the airport in February.

Statewide in February, baccarat  increased 23.4% and baccarat drop of $587.6 million increased 36.2% compared to February 2021, Lawton said. Baccarat’s hold percentage was 10.72%, versus 11.83% in 2021.

Among locals casinos, slot revenue was $188.4 million, a gain of 20.7% from $156.8 million in February 2019.

Laughlin registered $43 million in gaming revenue in February, a 31.1% increase from $32.8 million in February 2021.

Washoe County generated $83.5 million, an 18.6% increase from $70.4 million year over year.

South Lake Tahoe had $19.6 million, a 3.9% decrease from $20.4 million in February 2021.

February’s sports-betting write total set an all-time record for the month of February, Lawton said.

February sports pools won $30.9 million, down 2.9% ($925,000) compared to 2021. Sports-pool drop ($781.0 million) was up 40.9% ($226.7 million). Sports-pool hold was 3.96% vs. 5.75%, Lawton said.

Sports wagers made with mobile apps won $9.1 million on $513.0 million in wagers, holding 1.8%. This amount accounted for 65.7% of total wagers.