Nevada gaming win in April surprises industry analysts

Review Journal
 
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The earlier-than-usual arrival of Easter and the closure of the Tropicana apparently didn’t hurt Nevada casinos in April.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Wednesday reported a nearly 7 percent increase in gaming win statewide to $1.24 billion with an even larger 8.5 percent increase for Clark County.

The increases came despite — or maybe because of — Easter being celebrated in March this year. And, gamblers apparently found other places to play after the April 2 shutdown of the Tropicana.

“This month represented a very nice comeback after last month’s decrease,” said Michael Lawton, the Control Board’s senior economic analyst. “April traditionally is not the strongest month for gaming revenue and although this is our lowest win total this calendar year, it does represent an all-time record for the month of April.”

April was the 38th straight month that state gaming win exceeded $1 billion.

Lawton said state win was paced by downtown Las Vegas’ 11.1 percent increase over last year, the Strip being up 6.6 percent and outlying Clark County climbing 24.5 percent. Outlying Clark County includes southwest Las Vegas and Lawton said the December opening of Durango was likely responsible for that big boost.

Special events boost

Lawton attributed the strong month to a robust special events calendar that included the Mariah Carey residency at Dolby Live at Park MGM April 12-27, the return of Garth Brooks’ “Plus One” residency to Caesars Palace’s Colosseum April 18-28 and UFC 300 on April 13 at T-Mobile Arena, which featured Alex Pereira defeating Jamahal Hill in a light-heavyweight bout.

Las Vegas also hosted the National Association of Broadcasters that month and the Vegas Golden Knights played two of three playoff games at T-Mobile in their unsuccessful defense of last year’s Stanley Cup win.

How gamblers played was mixed across Southern Nevada’s major markets.

Slot-machine win was up on the Strip, downtown Las Vegas and outlying Clark County, even though players put less in Strip machines than last year.

Table-game win, including blackjack and baccarat, was up in all three markets, even though the drop — the amount wagered — was down in downtown.

Less money was wagered on sports in downtown Las Vegas than a year ago, but casino win in the category was up 19.9 percent, thanks to a 6.7 percent hold compared with 4.7 percent a year ago.

In outlying Clark County where Durango play was a factor, slot machine win was up 18.5 percent to $166.9 million based on coin-in of $1.9 billion (up 7.3 percent) and a hold percentage of 6.6 percent compared with 6 percent in April 2023.

Big blackjack boost

In blackjack play, outlying Clark County casinos won big in every way possible: Win increased an astonishing 206.2 percent to $9.2 million, based on volume of $53.1 million (up 36.2 percent) with a hold percentage of 17.4 percent compared with 7.7 percent a year ago.

For the calendar year to date, gaming win is up 3.4 percent statewide and on the Strip, up 12 percent in outlying Clark County, but flat in downtown Las Vegas.

Gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli said the calendar as well as play at Durango made April’s results even more impressive. He noted that there were two fewer weekend days this year than last.

“By segment, the impact of Durango continues to show, with the balance of Clark County gross gaming revenue up 24.5 percent year over year in April, while Boulder Strip was up 8.5 percent year over year and North Las Vegas was down 3.4 percent year over year,” Santarelli said in a Wednesday report to investors. “Given the higher mix of slots in the locals market, relative to the Strip, the influence of the aforementioned calendar accounting was more meaningful.”

The Control Board also said gaming tax collections continue to be on track to totaling more than $1 billion for the state’s general fund. After 10 months of collections, the state has collected $911.9 million, a 2.5 percent increase over the 2022-23 fiscal year.