Nevada Gaming Slows Slightly While Visitation Increases Again

Written By Marc Meltzer on May 3, 2023
March 2023 Nevada revenue report

Nevada gaming revenue crossed the $1 billion mark for the 25th consecutive month in March. According to the monthly gaming revenue report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), casinos throughout Nevada won a total of $1.31 billion in March.

Despite reaching this benchmark, gaming revenue slightly decreased by 3.18% in March. During the same period last year, Nevada casinos won ​​$1.35 billion.

In March, visitation to Las Vegas increased by 9.6% to 3.6 million. Meanwhile, gaming revenue in Clark County decreased by 2.48%. The dip on the Vegas Strip was slightly larger at 2.9%.

While gaming revenue dropped slightly and visitation remained high in March, casino operators like Caesars and MGM Resorts both reported record-breaking earnings during the first quarter of the year.

March might be a blip for Nevada gaming revenue. At the same time, the results could be an indicator that there might be a slowdown in gaming moving forward.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) is expecting a nationwide slowdown in gambling revenue. Nevada is an entirely different gaming market than anywhere else in the US so the report might not be applicable to the Silver State.

More on Nevada’s gaming revenue in March

Overall, Nevada’s gaming revenue in March was down slightly from last year, per the NGCB report. This was only the third time in the past 12 months that Nevada casinos saw lower revenue than the previous year.

Altogether, Nevada casinos took in $1.31 billion in gaming revenue. However, casinos in different parts of the state fared differently.

Gaming revenue in northern Nevada dropped more than in the southern cities. Reno gaming revenue was down more than seven percent. Lake Tahoe gaming revenue was down much more, off nearly 18 percent.

Vegas Strip casinos did comparatively well. The casinos on the Las Vegas tourist corridor won $724.6 million. This was a modest decline of 2.9% from the $746.2 million in 2022.

Casinos on the Vegas Strip won 50% less from baccarat in March than last year. Vegas Strip gaming revenue in March excluding baccarat was actually higher than in 2022.

Baccarat is a high-roller game mostly played at luxury casinos. Despite having fewer tables than a game like blackjack, the amount wagered can cause a major swing in Vegas Strip gaming revenue on any given month.

Downtown Las Vegas fared even better and saw an increase in revenue from last year. The casinos in “old Vegas” won $87.4 million. This was 1.15% higher than the same period in 2022.

A Nevada gaming revenue slowdown seems inevitable

A gaming revenue slowdown in Nevada is likely regardless of the overall economy. Gaming revenue in the Silver State has been on a torrid upswing since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pent-up demand to gamble will eventually slow down and revenue will level off. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the bang boom of gaming revenue increasing every month over the past couple of years could simply stop rising.

The AGA’s Future Conditions Index says economic pressure could hit the gaming business later this year. The report says:

“The 97.1 reading on the Future Conditions Index in Q1 indicates an environment in which real economic activity in the gaming sector is expected to decrease over the next six months (-2.9% annualized rate).”

Nevada casino revenue could be different than the rest of the country moving forward. Las Vegas is chock full of events that will bring visitors from the US and around the world. The majority of those visitors will spend time gambling.

While the event calendar slowed in April, it’s back in full force in May. There are music festivals every weekend in May.

The month ends with Memorial Day Weekend. This is typically one of the busiest in Las Vegas as the country unofficially kicks off the summer vacation season.

Looking beyond summer travel, Las Vegas will host eight Raiders games during the second half of the year and the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November. The F1 race weekend is expected to have an economic impact of more than $1 billion for Las Vegas.

While there could be a gaming slowdown, casino operators are expecting good things for Las Vegas as the year continues.

March Nevada sports betting report

Nevada sports betting revenue in March was $43.9 million. This marked an increase of 18.8% from last year.

While revenue was up in March, the amount wagered by Nevada bettors was down from 2022. The $829.8 million wagered during the month was 3.8% lower than last March.

Nevada casinos held 5.3% of the money wagered in March.

Revenue for the month was boosted by wagering on March Madness. Bettors wagered $655.7 million on basketball for the month. Approximately 70% was bet on college basketball.

March Madness in Las Vegas begins prior to the actual 68-team tournament. College basketball betting begins with numerous conference tournaments that take place in Las Vegas. There are even more taking place throughout the country leading up to the NCAA basketball tournament.

The first weekend of March Madness is one of the busiest in Las Vegas sportsbooks. There are 48 games taking place over the four-day weekend.

For the first time ever, Nevada hosted the West regional of the NCAA basketball tournament. Las Vegas will host the Final Four at Allegiant Stadium in 2028.

The additional March Madness games and Taylor Swift concerts helped boost tourism in Las Vegas for the month. Despite all the tourists in Las Vegas, Nevada sports betting apps only accounted for 64% of all wagers in March.

Las Vegas visitation up, and it may not slow

The small dip in gaming revenue in March wasn’t due to a lack of visitors. According to a Las Vegas Convention And Visitors Authority monthly report, 3.65 million people visited Las Vegas in March.

Overall, Las Vegas visitation was up 9.6% from last year but down 1.1% compared to 2019 (before the Covid-19 pandemic). The increase was helped by 771,000 visitors in Las Vegas for conventions. This is a whopping 56% increase from last year.

These visitors are important for hotel operators, as they pay higher midweek prices than leisure travelers looking for less expensive rooms than on weekends.

88.3% of Las Vegas hotel rooms were occupied in March. The 7.7% increase in hotel rooms occupied pushed prices higher once again.

The average price for hotel rooms in Las Vegas in March jumped by 30.7% to $213.25 per night.

During numerous casino operator earnings calls, reps from Caesars, MGM Resorts, and more pointed to a positive outlook ahead. Large events throughout the summer and into the fall are keeping advanced bookings high.

The NFL season will begin in September. The Raiders will host eight regular season home games.

U2’s highly anticipated limited engagement at the MSG Sphere will begin in late September and continue into October. In November, the first Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Photo by Shutterstock
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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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