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Slot machine play lifts Nevada to second-highest ever revenue month

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGaming
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Nevada casinos fell $4 million short of tying the state’s single-month gaming revenue record during March, and Las Vegas Strip casinos recorded their third-highest revenue month of all time.

Analysts credited the locals’ gaming markets and slot machine players with driving Nevada to its 13th straight gaming revenue month of more than $1 billion.

The Gaming Control Board said Thursday that Nevada’s $1.355 billion gaming revenue figure in March trailed only July 2021, which holds the record at $1.59 billion. The March figure was a 26.8 percent increase over March 2021, which kicked off the billion-dollar monthly figure.

On the Strip, gaming revenue of $746.2 million was a 48.8 percent increase over March 2021, when COVID-19 operating restrictions were still in place for half of the month. The figure fell short of the $792.1 million Strip casinos produced last July and $755.1 million in gaming revenue from November.

For the first three months of 2022, gaming revenues on the Strip are up 63.3 percent compared to the first three months of 2021. Last year, Nevada casinos collected a record $13.4 billion in gaming revenue, including $7 billion on the Strip.

Control Board Senior Economic Analyst Michael Lawton said $901.3 million in gaming revenue produced by slot machines statewide was an all-time record and a 16.8 percent increase compared with March 2021. More than $12 billion was wagered statewide on slot machines, and the subsequent results were the overriding factor during March.

The statewide slot revenue total included single-month record revenue of $751.6 million from all of Clark County, as well as record months at downtown Las Vegas casinos ($60.7 million) and casinos in the county’s unincorporated areas ($123.5 million).

“March’s results further support strong demand for gaming activity and consumer behavior remains consistent across multiple customer segments throughout the majority of markets statewide,” Lawton said.

Strip casinos also saw a bump in baccarat results in March. Revenue of $126.5 million on the game was an 87.3 increase from a year ago while wagering increased 89.4 percent to $635 million.

Clark County’s gaming revenue of almost $1.2 billion was a single-month record and both downtown Las Vegas ($86.4 million) and the balance of Clark County ($153.7 million) also recorded single-month gaming revenue totals during the March.

Lawton credited a strong calendar of events in Las Vegas during March that brought increased visitation to Southern Nevada, including three NASCAR races at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the first weekend of the month, a UFC fight card on March 5, and three college basketball conference championship tournaments.

The opening weekend of the March Madness men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments were also a factor in gaming totals, Lawton said.

Wells Fargo gaming analyst Daniel Politzer told investors in a research note Thursday the increased gaming revenues in the Las Vegas locals market reflected “ongoing demand” by customers with COVID-19 case counts falling and following the removal of Nevada’s mask mandate in February.

Visitation continues to rebound

The return of a handful of tradeshows gave Las Vegas its largest single month of convention attendance since the start of the pandemic, spurring overall Las Vegas visitation to roughly 10 percent below its pre-COVID-19 totals.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, more than 3.3 million visitors came to Las Vegas in March, a 49.5 percent increase compared with March 2021 and 9.8 percent below March 2019. Convention attendance to tradeshows, including the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Bar & Restaurant Expo brought nearly 495,000 visitors.

Hotel occupancy hit 80.6 percent in Las Vegas during March and weekend occupancy was slightly above 92 percent.

The average daily room rate on the Strip was $163 —  63 percent higher than a year ago and nearly 22 percent higher than March 2019.  Revenue per available room, or RevPAR, which is a term used to describe profitability, was $131.49 for the month. The figure is almost 137 percent higher than a year ago.

Outside of Las Vegas

Washoe County casinos took in $84.7 million in revenue during March, a 1.9 percent increase from a year ago, while Reno casinos collected almost $59.8 million of the county’s total, an increase of almost 1.3 percent.

South Lake Tahoe casinos reversed a two-month gaming revenue slide and $25.4 million during March, an increase of 5.6 percent.

For the first three months of the year, gaming revenue in Washoe County is up 9.2 percent from a year ago. Reno gaming revenues are up 10 percent.

A customer celebrates watching NCAA March Madness men’s basketball games at the Orleans race and sportsbook on Thursday, March 17, 2022. (Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent)

Sports wagers fall short of $1 billion

Despite March Madness, Nevada sportsbooks missed hitting the $1 billion mark in wagers for the second straight month. State sportsbooks took in $1 billion or more in wagers each month between October and January.

Overall, sportsbooks took in $863 million in wagers, an increase of 34.7 percent compared to March 2021.   

Revenue from sports betting of $36.9 million was down 6.2 percent compared to March 2021 because the sportsbooks held 4.3 percent of all wagers, as opposed to 6.2 percent a year ago.

Nevada sportsbooks said 66.8 percent of all wagers were made through mobile sports betting apps.

Las Vegas airport numbers are the best in 24 months

Harry Reid International Airport reported that the nearly 4.3 million passengers coming through the facility in March was the highest number since pandemic-related travel restrictions began in March 2020.

For the first three months of 2022, Reid Airport has serviced more than 10.7 million passengers, an 89 percent increase compared to the first three months of 2021.

Southwest Airlines remains the airport’s busiest air carrier, accounting for more than 3.7 million passengers of the overall total.

Direct international airline service between seven countries in March accounted for more than 154,000 passengers, which was also Reid Airport’s highest total in 24 months.

For the first three months of 2022, the number of international travelers to Las Vegas is more than seven times higher than in the same three months of 2021, when direct service was only available to a few cities in Mexico and Canada. Overseas international didn’t resume into Reid Airport until last November with flights between Heathrow International Airport in London and Las Vegas.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. on 4/28/2022 to include Las Vegas visitation numbers. Updated again at 1:54 p.m. on 4/18/2022 to clarify a reference to a record revenue month.

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