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Gaming machines inside the Eldorado Resort Casino in Downtown just before midnight on on Tuesday night, March 17, 2020. Earlier in the day, Governor Steve Sisolak issued an executive order closing all casinos in Nevada. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada gambling revenue for March — when casinos were ordered shut mid-month to curb the spread of coronavirus — was down nearly 40 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that casinos “won” $618 million in March, down from just over $1 billion in March 2019.

The market-dominating Las Vegas Strip took a 46 percent hit year over year with $300 million this March, while downtown revenues of $43 million were down 26 percent.

Northern Nevada markets, which are smaller than either of those two categories, also sank dramatically. Reno revenues of $22 million in March 2020 were down 55 percent from a year ago, and South Lake Tahoe’s $9 million this March was down 43 percent.

The state collected $37 million in taxes based on revenues from March. That’s down 54 percent, or $43 million, from what the state collected the same time last year.

The total shutdown of gaming in the state has major implications for state revenues that support schools, social services and other state programs. Gambling taxes make up about 18 percent of state general fund revenue, and that doesn’t count other revenues flowing from the hospitality industry such as sales taxes. 

Officials at the Nevada Resort Association, which represents casinos, say the hospitality industry generates about 39 percent of the state’s general fund revenue.

Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all gaming operations to cease by the end of the night on St. Patrick’s Day.

For more on how gaming revenue factors into the state budgeting process, check out our explainer video from 2019.

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