Nevada casinos again shatter revenue record, bring in $15.5B in 2023

The Nevada Independent
Nevada casinos again shatter revenue record, bring in $15.5B in 2023
Wild Casino

Strip casinos had their most lucrative year at $8.9 billion. Also, Las Vegas visitation tops 40.8 million and Reid Airport sets passenger record.

For the third straight year, Nevada casinos shattered the state’s annual gaming revenue record.

The Gaming Control Board on Wednesday said casinos statewide collected $15.5 billion in gaming revenue in 2023, a 4.6 percent increase over 2022. Strip casinos reported a record $8.9 billion in revenue —  a 7.4 percent increase over 2022 that accounted for more than 57 percent of the statewide total.

Up until 2019, $12 billion in annual gaming revenue was the typical figure reported by Nevada’s casino industry. That changed in 2021, a year after the pandemic shut down casinos for 78 days and curtailed operations throughout 2020, leading to a 34.6 percent annual revenue decline. The industry quickly bounced back — Nevada produced $13.4 billion in gaming revenue in 2021 and $14.8 billion in 2022.

December was also a milestone month for the state. Combined, casinos statewide accounted for $1.43 billion in gaming revenue, a 9 percent increase from a year ago and a single-month revenue record eclipsing the $1.4 billion set in July. November is now the state’s third-highest gaming revenue month with $1.37 billion.

During 2023, casinos statewide produced revenue records in 9 of the 12 months. 

The Strip reported a single-month record of $909.6 million in gaming revenue in December. High-profile special events, such as the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix in late November, the Sept. 30 opening of the $2.3 billion Sphere in Las Vegas and the Dec. 13 opening of the $3.7 billion Fontainebleau Las Vegas, boosted visitation and gaming revenue results.

In addition to the gaming totals, Las Vegas tourism exceeded 40.8 million visitors in 2023, which is below the record 42.9 million visitors Las Vegas attracted in 2016. Also, Harry Reid International Airport shattered last year’s passenger volume record by more than 9 percent with the facility drawing 57.6 million travelers. 

In a research note to investors, JMP Securities gaming analyst Jordan Bender estimated that Fontainebleau’s star-studded opening generated $30 million to $40 million of gaming revenue, but not all of it at the resort.

Mike Lawton, the control board’s senior economic analyst, said the Strip’s big revenue increases this year accounted for 90.3 percent of the state’s overall revenue growth, given that many of the other reporting markets, including 6 of the 7 reporting markets in Washoe County and Lake Tahoe, saw year-over-year revenue decline in 2023.

Excluding the Strip, Lawton said statewide gaming revenue would have increased just 1 percent in 2023.

“The Strip continued to do the heavy lifting for the state,” he said.

However, the Strip wasn’t the only market setting a new yearly gaming revenue record. Downtown resorts ($909.6 million), the Las Vegas local casinos in the unincorporated markets of Clark County ($1.7 billion) and Mesquite ($183.6 million) all set new annual records. 

Other reporting markets setting single-year records were Sparks ($182.6 million), Elko County ($402.1 million), West Wendover ($269.2 million) and the balance of Elko County ($133 million).

December revenue resulted in $84.9 million in gaming tax collections, a nearly 27.3 percent increase from a year ago and the second straight double-digit monthly increase. Through the first seven months of the fiscal year that began in July, cumulative gaming tax collections were at $584.9 million, up almost 6.2 percent from the same period last fiscal year.

A big December on the Strip

While November’s Strip gaming revenue mark of $821 million was the second highest of all time, Lawton said December is historically stronger because of the packed special event calendar and annual New Year’s Eve celebration. 

He listed U2’s eight performances at the Sphere, the NBA’s new In-Season Tournament finale at T-Mobile Arena and two Las Vegas Raiders games at Allegiant Stadium as among the events that boosted December’s gaming totals.

A breakdown of the Strip’s gaming total for 2023 showed a 10.6 percent increase in table game revenue to $4.1 billion and a 4.8 percent increase in slot machine revenue to $4.8 billion. High-end baccarat play accounted for $1.5 billion of the table game total. 

The baccarat figure was the Strip's third-highest yearly total ever and was a nearly 30 percent increase from 2022. More than $8.8 billion was wagered on baccarat, a 13.5 percent increase from a year ago. The percentage of wagers Strip casino held on baccarat bets was 16.6 percent, the highest mark in the last 20 years. 

A week ago, however, Caesars Entertainment said it expected to see a fourth-quarter net loss because of results from the company’s Strip resorts.

Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas wrote in a research note Wednesday that the control board’s December and year-end report might alleviate some fears in the investment community concerning the industry.

“Strip results are solid, despite some mixed commentary from Caesars,” Jonas wrote. He noted that MGM Resorts International reports quarterly results Feb. 13, which should prove some “potential upside.” 

Jonas added that December’s figures from the Las Vegas locals gaming market — up 8.1 percent in the balance of Clark County and 10.3 percent in downtown — “could bode well for Boyd Gaming and Red Rock Resorts.”

Nevada sportsbooks collected a single-year record $481.3 million in gaming revenue in 2023, up 7.7 percent from a year ago. However, wagering on sports declined 5.1 percent to $8.3 billion. Sportsbooks held 5.8 percent of all wagers, a slight increase from 2022. Mobile sports betting accounted for 65.8 percent of all wagers.

Las Vegas visitation soars

Meanwhile, Las Vegas drew more than 40.8 million visitors in 2023, the destination’s highest single-year total since the pandemic decimated the state’s tourism market.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released the December and year-end visitation numbers during last week’s Vegas Chamber’s Preview Las Vegas 2024 event.

Las Vegas closed out the year with almost 3.4 million visitors in December, a 2.7 percent increase from a year ago. The 12-month total was 5.2 percent higher than in 2022 and was the largest yearly total since the Las Vegas area drew 42.5 million visitors in pre-pandemic 2019. 

The Clark County Department of Aviation said late Wednesday that Reid Airport served more than 4.8 million passengers during December, an increase of 9.4 percent, and propelled the facility to a second consecutive yearly record. In December, airport officials said the facility had exceeded the 2022 12-month total in just 11 months.

More than 3.2 million passengers of the 57.6 million overall total arrived and departed on international flights, a 28.4 percent increase from 2022, the highest total since 2019. 

Reid Airport set monthly passenger records in 11 of the 12 months in 2023, including a single-month record of 5.4 million passengers in October.

Updated at 3:29 p.m. on 1/31/2024 to include airport totals.