As Vegas Strip Suffers, Nevada Gaming Revenue Shows Big Sports Betting Wins

Written By Marc Meltzer on January 6, 2021 - Last Updated on January 21, 2021

2020 was a strange year, to say the least. Yet even amid a global pandemic, Nevada has forged ahead. How has the Silver State done? Monthly gaming revenue provides us with a peek.

First, the good news: The November gaming revenue report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board shows that casinos won a record-breaking amount of money from sports betting.

Now, for the bad news: Every other form of gaming revenue is down year over year. The state as a whole reported $771.2 million in gaming revenues, a decrease of 17.75% versus November 2019. That’s not good, but it’s not awful.

For the Vegas Strip, though, it’s devastating.

Gaming revenue takes big hit along Vegas Strip

The Vegas Strip is being hit harder than the Vegas locals markets and other parts of the Silver State.

In November, gaming revenue on the Strip was just under $349.8 million. That reflects a decrease of 32.46% year over year. And that’s just the beginning.

Gaming revenue on the Vegas Strip is down a total of 38.53% for the past 12 months.

For comparison, revenue in downtown Las Vegas actually grew a little from last year thanks to the opening of the casino at Circa Resort. The $52.99 million in November revenue stands as a modest increase of 1.74% from last year.

Overall, gaming revenue in downtown Las Vegas is only down 29.23% over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, in Washoe County, where Reno is located, gaming revenue declined a mere 3.21% in November and 20.29% for the year. That’s not good. But it’s certainly not as bad as the Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas visitation way down

Nevada is a state of many regions that depend on different kinds of customers. Even sections of Las Vegas attracts contrasting types of customers.

The Vegas Strip itself is a different animal. While local customers live throughout Nevada, the Strip relies heavily on tourists.

No other gaming market in the US is impacted by air travel like Las Vegas. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, visitation to Las Vegas has declined 54.5% for the year.

Year over year, the number of passengers that end their flight in Las Vegas is down 56.6%. If there’s a saving grace for Las Vegas casinos and gaming revenue, it’s from regional drive-in traffic.

The LVCVA estimates auto traffic to Las Vegas has dropped just 12.3% on a year-by-year basis.

The downtrend for the Vegas Strip could continue the longer it takes for a coronavirus vaccine to reach critical mass.

Another record-breaking month for sports betting

Nevada casinos won $61.8 million from sports betting in November. That’s an increase of 99.28% from the same period last year. Yes, casinos won almost twice as much from sports betting this year than last year.

The overall amount of money wagered on sports in Nevada was $609.6 million, less than 1% off from last year.

Sportsbooks in Nevada can thank an extra Sunday in November compared to last year. They can also thank football bettors for losing a record $56 million. Overall, Nevada sportsbooks won 10.14% of all wagers.

For comparison, Nevada sportsbooks won 6.43% of wagers in October. Last month sports betting in Nevada was boosted by a record handle.

Nevada sports betting revenue greater than table games

November was a huge month for sports betting in Nevada, a rare period when casinos earned more from sports betting than table games.

Video poker and slot machines are available at bars, taverns, supermarkets, etc. outside of casinos. As usual, their revenue crushed all other gaming revenue in November.

  • Slot Machines: $528.1 million
  • Sports Betting: $61.8 million
  • Blackjack: $58.1 million
  • Baccarat: $42.0 million
  • Craps: $26.9 million
  • Roulette: $14.2 million

The revenue for the month isn’t entirely surprising. Anecdotally, locals bet more often on slots and sports because they can be enjoyed outside of a casino.

For reference, 56.4% of all sports bets in November were placed via mobile devices. There’s no need to visit a brick and mortar casino when you can wager through sports betting apps from home.

Table games like baccarat, blackjack, craps and roulette are frequently played by visitors inside of casinos. Baccarat revenue has been hit especially hard this year due to a lack of international high rollers on the Vegas Strip.

Expect the trends to continue

Unfortunately, coronavirus doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. The rollout of different vaccines has been disappointing and slower than expected. A recovery for Las Vegas, and all of Nevada, may also be slow.

Earlier this year, casinos closed for nearly two months beginning mid-March. The closures were implemented to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Casinos may or may not close again in 2021. However, it’s likely that capacity limits will remain.

Properties are currently allowed only 25% of capacity. A rebound for gaming revenue won’t happen until more machines and table positions are allowed. Additionally, many tourists will continue to stay away from air travel until they are able to take a vaccine.

2021 may not be as bad as 2020. But it doesn’t appear as though it will be off to a hot start.

Photo by AP / John Locher
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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