Report: Las Vegas casinos still slumping, other markets improving


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John Locher / AP

In this Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, a man walks in front of the Circus Circus hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

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.

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