John Locher / AP
Thu, Feb 25, 2021 (11:13 a.m.)
Las Vegas Strip casinos are continuing to suffer effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a monthly report from state regulators, but Northern Nevada and parts of the state that attract local and drive-in gamblers are showing signs of recovery.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Thursday that casinos statewide took in almost $762 million in January, down 26.6% compared with the same month a year ago.
House winnings at Strip properties were down almost 44% in January compared with a year ago. That was before the pandemic prompted closures and stopped a stretch of three months when casinos won more than $1 billion.
Board analyst Michael Lawton said so-called “casino win” on the Strip totaled just $321.5 million last month, accounting for 91% of the statewide decrease.
Lawton called a slump in baccarat play, down 74.3% on the Strip, a significant contributor to statewide results. Other game and table winnings were down 50% compared with January 2020.
Las Vegas resorts rely on air travelers, and McCarran International Airport reported Wednesday that just 1.5 million passengers came and went in January — down nearly 64% from a year ago.
Casinos in Washoe County, including Reno and North Lake Tahoe, and in Elko County reported winnings were up in January compared with a year ago.
“Several markets in the state, primarily in Northern Nevada which rely on locals and in drive-in domestic play, are recording increases,” Lawton said. He added that those areas also benefited from a calendar that provided two additional weekend days compared with a year ago.
Lawton noted that sports betting statewide was strong, with casino wagering pools winning $52.4 million. That was up 160% from a year ago.
More than half of sports wagers were made on mobile apps, and casinos won $23.1 million on $363.5 million in bets, he said.
Football wagering benefited from an additional week of NFL games in January 2021 compared with 2020.
The state collected $46.3 million in percentage fees based on the January figures, down more than 36% compared with a year ago.
Casino winnings are a key indicator of state fiscal health. Casino taxes are second to sales taxes as a percentage of Nevada’s annual budget. The state has no personal income tax.