Analysts: Nevada casinos headed toward a second-straight revenue record year
Historically, Nevada gaming revenue averages a 9 percent decline between July and August.
The Gaming Control Board said Thursday that August’s statewide gaming revenue figure of more than $1.2 billion was a 3.5 percent increase from a year ago, even as the market was down 8.2 percent from July – well within the historical trend.
But with statewide gaming totals up almost 14 percent above 2021’s record year of $13.4 billion, 2022 appears to be on track to once again rewrite Nevada gaming history books.
Strip casinos continued to pace the state total with an August revenue figure of $659.7 million, an increase of 5.2 percent from 2021. Through eight months, Strip casinos are almost 25 percent ahead of 2021’s record $7 billion in gaming revenue.
“Overall, we view Las Vegas Strip gaming revenue results as generally stable, but reflective of a typically slower August, as telegraphed by operators in recent earnings calls,” Wells Fargo gaming analyst Daniel Politzer wrote in a Thursday morning research note.
J.P. Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff had a similar opinion, telling investors, “Broadly speaking, demand was resilient in light of macro concerns and higher gas prices impacting the consumer.”
The statewide and Strip results led the control board’s top research analyst to predict last year’s record revenue totals would be exceeded. August marked the 18th straight month of $1 billion or more in gaming revenue.
“The event calendar continues to impress me along with no sign of a downturn in visitation in the near future,” control board Senior Economic Analyst Michael Lawton said. “I do believe we may see year-over-year (monthly) decreases, but in terms of the level of gaming win we are witnessing, I feel it is sustainable, especially on the Las Vegas Strip.”
Clark County, despite declines in two of its reporting markets (Laughlin and the Boulder Strip, which includes Henderson), totaled more than $1 billion in gaming revenue in August, the 11th time in the last 18 months the market has topped that figure.
Analysts said the declines in Laughlin (down 12.6 percent) and Boulder (down 3 percent) could be due to calendar issues with July and August beginning and ending on a weekend, which often disrupts slot machine revenue collections.
Lawton credited Strip resorts with boosting August’s totals statewide. Several special events, including concerts at Strip resorts and sporting events at Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena, spurred visitation and gaming play.
Statewide table game revenue increased 6 percent, baccarat revenue was up almost 4 percent on a percent increase in wagering, and slot machine revenue grew 2.5 percent.
Lawton doesn’t expect much of a change when the September numbers are accounted for.
“The event calendar for September is off the charts and I believe (that) will translate into another impressive month for gaming win,” Lawton said.
Northern Nevada revenue increases
Through eight months, gaming revenue in Washoe County is up more than 1 percent. Lawton said the opening of Legends Bay Casino in Sparks at the end of August – Northern Nevada’s first all-new casino in two decades – will boost the September figures.
Northern Nevada casinos saw revenue jump 2.3 percent in August, including an 18.5 percent increase in North Lake Tahoe and a 26.8 percent increase from casinos along Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.
Mixed month for sports betting
Sports betting revenue in August was $16.1 million, a 12 percent increase, which Lawton attributed to a slight increase in the percentage of bets won by the sportsbooks.
Nevada sportsbooks took in $408.7 million in wagers, a decline of 4.4 percent compared to a year ago. Analysts expect the September sports wagering totals to increase given the kickoff of both the NFL and college football seasons.
Wagers made with mobile apps accounted for 71.7 percent of total bets placed with sportsbooks in August.
Las Vegas visitation still lagging behind 2019 totals
Las Vegas visitation fell just short of 3.2 million during August, an increase of 6.4 percent from a year ago, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The figure was 11 percent below pre-pandemic August 2019’s total.
For the first eight months of 2022, total visitation to Las Vegas is up 27.7 percent as compared to the same eight months of 2021.
Hotel room occupancy reached 76.8 percent in August, four percentage points ahead of last year, while occupancy on weekends was 90.1 percent, the sixth-straight month the market reached that figure.
Convention attendance of 406,500 in August was 20.5 percent higher than August 2021 and added to the eight-month total of nearly 3.2 million. Still, convention attendance is 32.4 percent below 2019 levels.
In a research note earlier this month, Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told investors that travel site searches for Las Vegas were up more than 7 percent in August.
“Longer term, we see the return of conventions and a strong sports and event calendar in the next couple of years to provide some level of support for Strip gaming revenue and non-gaming revenue,” Beynon said.
He cited next year’s scheduled NCAA March Madness Regional Championship round in April, Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix in November and Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024 at Allegiant Stadium as huge tourism drivers.
Las Vegas airport misses a new record
After two straight months of record-setting passenger volume, Harry Reid International Airport saw a slight slow down in August. But the 4.64 million travelers, a 22 percent increase from a year ago, still accounted for the year’s third busiest month.
The total followed July’s single-month record of 4.86 million passengers and June’s previous single month-record of 4.68 million passengers.
For the first eight months of 2022, Reid Airport has seen almost 33.8 million passengers, 41.4 percent higher than the same eight months of 2021.
International passengers totaled 245,248, compared to 256,081 passengers in July, the first time this year there was a decline from the previous month. Still, the August total was a 209 percent jump from a year ago and helped with the continued recovery of international visitation to Las Vegas.
Southwest Airlines accounted for more than 1.6 million passengers of the airport’s total in August.
(Updated on 9-29-2022 at 11:46 a.m. with Las Vegas tourism figures for August.)