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The Nevada Independent

Nevada gaming revenue rose in August, but growth slowed by weather

The Strip still produced a 1 percent increase despite air travel disruptions by Hurricane Hilary. Analysts pointed to a busy rest of 2023.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGaming
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Nevada’s casino industry recorded its second-straight monthly gaming revenue increase in August — but by less than $1 million.

The Gaming Control Board said Friday that statewide gaming revenue last month was $1.209 billion, a less than 1 percent increase, or about $788,000 compared to a year ago. The overall total was still a record for August.

The month’s results followed July’s all-time single-month record of $1.4 billion as state casino revenues rebounded following two straight monthly declines in May and June. 

Strip gaming revenue increased almost 1 percent to nearly $666.8 million thanks to a healthy event calendar that was bookended by two major events at Allegiant Stadium — a soccer match on Aug. 1 between FC Barcelona and AC Milan and Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour on Aug. 26 and 27. 

Michael Lawton, the control board’s senior economic analyst, said the monthly totals in Las Vegas were somewhat depressed by Hurricane Hilary, a major storm that caused the cancellation of several hundred flights arriving or departing from Harry Reid International Airport starting Aug. 20. Reid and other airports in the Southwest were affected by the storm for several days.

Consequently, August passenger totals at Reid Airport declined for the first time in 2023, although the overall drop was less than 1 percent.

Statewide, casinos hit the $1 billion mark for the 30th straight month in August.

Strip gaming revenue was affected by a decrease of 3.4 percent in slot machine winnings, but benefited from a 7.1 percent increase in table game play. High-end baccarat was the largest contributor to the table game segment with revenue of $22.1 million, an increase of 24 percent from last month. The results were attributed to a 6.4 percent increase in wagering and a hold percentage of almost 18 percent of all bets.

Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli told investors in a research note Friday that he originally estimated Strip gaming totals would be down 1.3 percent in August, even without accounting for the storm.

Strip visitors watch and photograph the Sphere in Las Vegas on July 4, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Las Vegas visitation increases

There wasn’t any disruption in Strip visitation, however.

Las Vegas saw more than 3.3 million visitors in August, a 4 percent increase from a year ago. Convention attendance rose more than 64 percent, primarily because of a large furniture conference at the World Market Center falling into August, as opposed to July last year.

Overall hotel occupancy was 80.3 percent in August, a 3.5 increase from a year ago. Weekend occupancy was 89.7 percent, which was relatively flat compared with last August.

For the first eight months of 2023, visitation is up 7.6 percent compared with 2022. Convention attendance has grown 30 percent.

Wells Fargo Financial gaming analyst Daniel Politzer said gaming revenue and visitation prospects are increasing in the fall and winter months because of special events, such as the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix in November.

“We recently met with Caesars [Entertainment] management [which] stated that occupancy the next 90 days is 96 percent to 97 percent,” Politzer wrote in a research note Friday. “MGM [Resorts International] noted that 90 percent of its F1 tickets are sold and room rates at MGM's luxury properties have held steady.”

Statewide sports betting, which included the first few weeks of college football and preseason NFL games, contributed $18.1 million in revenue to the overall August total. The figure was up 12.7 percent from a year ago. The increase was due to a more than 1 percent increase in the sportsbook’s hold percentage on all bets.

Sports wagers grew 5.5 percent to $431.3 million while wagers placed on mobile devices accounted for 73.4 percent of the overall total.

Through eight months, statewide gaming revenue is up 3.6 percent compared with 2022, when the state collected a record $14.8 billion over 12 months. Strip revenue is up 5.8 percent compared to the $8.2 billion collected last year.

Northern Nevada was a mixed bag

Reno casinos saw revenue increase 2.2 percent to $68.7 million in August, the fifth straight monthly increase for the Northern Nevada market. Washoe County as a whole increased 2 percent to $94.4 million. 

Sparks, which has benefited in the past year from the August 2022 opening of Legends Bay Casino, saw a 4.7 percent revenue increase to $15.3 million.

It was a different story in the two Lake Tahoe markets, which experienced the state’s only double-digit revenue declines in August.

South Lake Tahoe saw monthly revenue drop 11.3 percent to $26.6 million due to a nearly 52 percent decline in table game revenue. Wagering on table games was also down nearly 11 percent.

North Lake Tahoe, which has just three casinos, had $2.5 million in gaming revenue, the lowest figure in any of the state’s 20 reporting markets. The 17.4 percent decline from a year ago was due to a 22 percent drop in table game revenue and a 16.1 percent decline in slot machine revenue.

Lawton said the control board will still include the market in the monthly reports, but no longer include commentary because the overall totals are inconsequential to the state’s overall revenue total.

A British Airways flight passes the Sphere in Las Vegas while preparing to land at Harry Reid International Airport on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Airport numbers drop

Reid Airport saw more than 4.6 million passengers come through the facility in August, roughly 22,000 fewer than a year ago. 

Reid’s domestic flight totals fell 1.2 percent during the month and two of the airport’s top five air carriers, Spirit Airlines and American Airlines, saw passenger totals drop in August.

International travel continued its comeback with the airport seeing more than 284,000 international passengers in August, a 16 percent increase. Through August, Reid has welcomed more than 2.1 million international travelers this year, a 37.3 percent increase over 2022.

For the first eight months of 2023, Reid Airport has seen 37.7 million passengers, up 11.6 percent from 2022 when the airport serviced a record 52.6 million passengers.

Southwest Airlines remains the airport’s No. 1 air carrier, with almost 13.5 million passengers through August, a nearly 14 percent increase.

Updated at 11:53 a.m. on 9/29/2023 with Las Vegas tourism numbers.

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