(Updated) Not a surprise: Nevada gaming revenues dip 26% in February

(Updated) Not a surprise: Nevada gaming revenues dip 26% in February

  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
March 25, 2021 8:15 PM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

For the second straight month, Nevada gaming revenues took a 26% tumble.

It wasn’t a surprising figure, given that both January and February 2020 each produced in excess of $1 billion in monthly gaming revenue and were the state’s last two pre-pandemic months prior to the casino industry’s 78-day shut down that began a year ago.

Statewide, casino revenue in February was $772.4 million, according to numbers released Thursday by the Gaming Control Board.

Michael Lawton, the control board’s senior research analyst, said February was a difficult comparison, considering the calendar had one less weekend day in addition to last February being a leap year.

Las Vegas Strip casinos saw revenues decline 41.5% to $348.4 million during a month that Lawton said was “materially impacted” by the lack of international travel, which softened the traditionally busy Chinese New Year holiday.

Baccarat revenues in February declined 56.3% and baccarat wagering was off 57.9%. Excluding baccarat from the total, the Strip’s gaming would have decreased 38% year over year.

The Strip’s challenged gaming revenue total accounted for 91.6% of the state’s total decrease, Lawton said.

Lawton told the Associated Press he expects the March gaming revenues to show a year-over-year increase. Casinos began to closed last year starting March 18 to comply with the governor-ordered shutdown.

Eleven days ago, ahead of the opening weekend of March Madness, casinos were allowed to increase capacity limits to 50%.

“Gaming activity is improving due to improved metrics related to COVID-19, capacity limitations being increased and stimulus checks which are acting as a catalyst to elevated spending by consumers,” Lawton said.

During February, Southern Nevada had some of the highest gaming revenue declines in the month, including a 30.8% decline in Laughlin, a 12.2% drop in North Las Vegas, and a 7.1% dip in downtown Las Vegas.

Reno gaming revenues were down 13.7% to $49.8 million during February.

Casinos statewide were operating under capacity restrictions of 25% early in February due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The limits were lifted to 35% toward the middle of the month. However, large events were not allowed and many non-gaming options, such as shows and other entertainment, were closed.

There were, however, a few bright spots in the state, mostly in Northern Nevada. South Lake Tahoe casinos saw revenues increase 15.8% while casinos in unincorporated areas of Washoe County grew revenues by 22.4%. Casinos in the Carson Valley market reported a 6% gaming revenue increase.

For the first two months of 2021, gaming revenues statewide are down 26.3%, the Las Vegas Strip is down 41.7%, downtown Las Vegas is off 12.4% and Washoe County is down 2.4%.

Sports betting

Nevada’s sportsbooks took in $31.8 million in revenues, a decline of 16.3%. However, sports wagers increased 12.7% to $554.3 million, an all-time record for the month of February. Betting on the Feb. 7 Super Bowl was $136.1 million, the fifth-highest ever for Nevada sportsbooks.

Sports betting on mobile apps accounted for 57% of all sports wagers in Nevada and the overall total of $316.2 million was a 44.4% increase compared to a year ago.

Las Vegas visitors

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said the market attracted more than 1.54 million visitors during February, a decline of 53.8% from the 3.3 million visitors a year ago. However, the number was 18.9% higher than in January, reflecting a positive trend.

LVCVA Vice President of Research Kevin Bagger contributed February’s month-over-month increase with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and continued health and safety protocols that helped control the “spikes (in the virus) that emerged in December and January.”

Total hotel occupancy was 42% during February, up 10.4% over January, although down from 86.8% in February 2020. Both midweek and weekend occupancy during February increased over January’s numbers.

The LVCVA still reported a zero in convention attendance, the 11th straight month for that particular reporting figure. Last week, the LVCVA said the city’s first major convention in more than a year was scheduled in June. The World of Concrete trade show expected to draw 60,000 construction industry attendees at the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center.

McCarran Airport numbers

Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport saw a 58.2% decline in passenger volume during February compared to a year ago. The Clark County Aviation Department said Thursday the airport saw more than 1.6 million passengers during the month, compared to more than 3.8 million a year ago.

International airline passengers were down 96.8% during the month, which reflects continued COVID-19 restrictions to and from locations outside the U.S.

For the first two months of the year, McCarran’s passenger volume is down 61.1%.

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