Nevada’s billion-dollar gaming revenue streak continues; August results boosted by reopened showrooms and attractions

Mask mandates to enter Nevada’s casinos, showrooms and other entertainment venues weren’t a detriment to the state’s gaming industry.

Casinos rocketed to their sixth-straight $1 billion gaming revenue month in August and put Nevada on pace to crack the $12 billion annual revenue figure casinos statewide have reached just three times, the last being in 2019.

Even the Las Vegas Strip, which has trailed the state percentage totals for much of 2021, is now just less than 1 percent behind its 2019 figure, thanks to a second-straight month in which gaming revenues were 20 percent above 2019 totals.

“The result was above our estimate,” Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli told investors in a research note.

The Gaming Control Board said Thursday gaming revenues statewide topped $1.165 billion during August, a 22.3 percent increase over pre-pandemic August 2019. Analysts are not using comparisons to 2020 after COVID-19 caused a 78-day shutdown of gaming in Nevada and operating restrictions disrupted the gaming industry through much of the year.

The $1 billion per month streak, which began in March, is the state’s second longest in 14 years. Nevada casinos collected $1 billion or more in gaming revenues for eight straight months between November 2006 and May 2007.

The August totals followed a July that brought Nevada’s largest single-month gaming total of all time — $1.36 billion.

On the Strip, casinos recorded nearly $625.7 million in gaming revenue, which trailed July’s single-month record of $793.7 million. Downtown Las Vegas casinos saw nearly $64.2 million in gaming revenues during August, and the area is up 23.2 percent for the calendar year compared to 2019.

Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip and Circa in downtown Las Vegas were not open in 2019.

Wells Fargo gaming analyst Daniel Politzer said the Strip’s good fortune carried into the Las Vegas locals market, which also gained some “calendar benefit” with August beginning on a Sunday. That allowed slot machine revenues from many casino operators from the last day of July to be counted in the August totals.

Gaming revenues from the neighborhood casino areas in unincorporated Clark County and Henderson are trending ahead of 2019 overall totals.

“We view these results as strong and supportive of our positive view on the fundamentals on the Las Vegas Strip and Las Vegas Locals gaming markets,” Politzer wrote in a research note.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told investors he continues to believe that Strip gaming numbers will continue to trend above 2019 levels. He cited his investor meeting last month with MGM Resorts International Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Halkyard, who said increased group business would provide the market an additional boost.

“We still support our view that Las Vegas Strip revenues can return to (their) prior peak in 2022, benefitting from non-gaming growth,” Beynon said, citing the openings of Allegiant Stadium, new convention space at the Caesars Forum Conference Center and an expansion of meeting space at Wynn Las Vegas.

Gaming Control Board Senior Economic Analyst Michael Lawton credited several special events during August for the gaming figures.

The United States played Mexico in the 2021 CONACAF Gold Cup final on Aug. 1 at Allegiant Stadium, and two Cirque Du Soleil shows returned to the Las Vegas Strip – Michael Jackson One at Mandalay Bay on Aug. 19 and The Beatles Love show at The Mirage on Aug. 26. Manny Pacquiao fought Yordenis Ugás in a welterweight boxing match at T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 21, and rock group Guns N’ Roses performed at Allegiant Stadium on Aug. 27.

“Strong demand across markets, federal stimulus, the continued rebound of leisure travel and the return of special events and entertainment continued to propel gaming past 2019 levels,” Lawton said.

Las Vegas visitation dips

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said visitation to Southern Nevada “receded” from the market’s pandemic-era peak in July because of a spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. Clark County was hit early and hard by the latest wave of the virus.

Visitation was just under 3 million for August, according to the LVCVA, a decline of 9.2 percent from July’s 3.3 million visitors and down 16.2 percent from nearly 3.6 million visitors in August 2019.

Still, hotel occupancy hit 72.9 percent for the month with weekend occupancy at 87.1 percent. August’s average daily hotel room rate of $140.32 was down nearly 8 percent from July; the LVCVA said the figure was the second highest monthly mark since the pandemic began in March 2020.

LED signs of the Hard Rock and Montbleu Hotels thank first responders in the Stateline area of South Lake Tahoe on Sept. 1, 2021. (Christian Monterrosa / The Nevada Independent)

Northern Nevada issues

Lawton said the Caldor Fire, which shut down gaming in South Lake Tahoe over Labor Day weekend, slowed activity in both the North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe gaming markets toward the end of August. Highway 50 was closed on Aug. 22 because of the fire, which disrupted visitation from the Bay Area and Sacramento in the Tahoe region.

North Lake Tahoe gaming revenues were $2.5 million during the month, a decline of 6 percent compared to August 2019. South Lake Tahoe revenue of $23.7 million was a decline of less than 1 percent, driven primarily by the timing of slot machine revenue collections.

For the calendar year, North Lake Tahoe casino revenues are up 11.2 percent and South Lake Tahoe is up 2.9 percent compared to the first eight months of 2019.

Lawton suggested Washoe County may also have experienced some disruption at the end of August because of the residual smoke and highway’s shutdown. The market, which includes Reno and Sparks, produced $90.5 million in gaming revenue, an increase of just 4.3 percent from August 2019. Visitation in Northern Nevada fell 4.9 percent compared to July, which had one extra weekend.

Other statewide gaming highlights  

Baccarat wagering during August didn’t have the impact the game had in July when revenue from the game increased more than 100 percent. Baccarat topped $93.1 million in August, 5.6 percent below the August 2019 total. Wagering on the game was $610.7 million, a decline of 7 percent compared to August 2019.

The state’s sportsbooks collected $14.3 million in revenue and took in more than $427 million in sports wagers during August. Both figures were double-digit declines compared to a year ago,an anomaly because the NBA Finals took place in August 2020 because of the pandemic.

Compared with August 2019, sportsbook revenues were down 23.4 percent and wagers were up 48.5 percent. Lawton said Nevada sportsbooks won just 3.35 percent of all wagers placed during the month.

Meanwhile, for the first eight months of 2021, sports betting revenues are up 57.4 percent and wagers have increased 36.7 percent compared to 2019.

Lawton said more than 69 percent of all Nevada sports wagers were placed on mobile apps in August.

A woman wears a protection mask at McCarran International Airport on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Las Vegas airport traffic slows in August

McCarran International Airport saw more than 3.8 million passengers during August, down 8.3 percent from July. However, the airport’s international passenger total of 79,275 during the month once again showed a steady increase since the pandemic halted direct flights to and from 11 countries.

The passenger count was 14.1 percent below the pre-pandemic 4.4 million passengers in August 2019. For the first eight months of 2021, McCarran has seen almost 23.2 million passengers, 30.1 percent below the same time period of 2019.

The international total, a 76.4 percent drop compared to August 2019, included flights from just Mexico and Canada, but included nearly 15,000 more international travelers compared with July. McCarran saw more than 3.8 million international travelers in 2019, an average of more 316,000 passengers per month.

Analysts have pointed to the lack of direct international visitors into Las Vegas, which has been hampered because of pandemic related travel restrictions, as a missing component to visitation and gaming totals.

A week ago, the White House announced opened travel to the U.S. for all vaccinated foreign nationals starting in early November, including those currently affected by the U.S. travel ban.

Record-setting July gaming numbers fueled by special events and pent-up demand

From Garth Brooks to Colin McGregor to Usher, the Strip welcomed a return of headliners and special events during July.

Las Vegas visitors didn’t just spend money on high-priced event tickets. Some of the Benjamins landed on gaming tables and inside slot machines.

The result was the Strip’s largest ever single-month revenue total as casinos reported $793.7 million during the month, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Thursday. The total was 46.2 percent higher than July 2019 and blew well past the previous single-month mark of $696.1 million recorded in February 2013.

The figure helped propel the state to nearly $1.36 billion in gaming revenue during July, the fifth straight month of $1 billion or more in gaming revenue — eclipsing the previous single-month record (in May) of $1.23 billion. The last time Nevada saw five consecutive months of $1 billion or more in gaming revenue was December 2007 through April 2008.

The Strip also saw more than 3.3 million visitors during the month, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The figure was the market’s highest single-month total since the pandemic dampened tourism visitation in March 2020.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said in a research note said July’s record gaming revenues came “with little to no convention or group business.”

Earlier this month, Beynon hosted a talk between MGM Resorts International Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Halkyard and Macquarie clients. MGM Resorts operates 10 resorts on the Strip, and Halkyard said at the meeting that the company expects to return to pre-pandemic revenue levels by the middle of 2022.

Halkyard added that he expects all Las Vegas casino operators to report record July numbers.

The Strip wasn’t alone in fueling record state gaming revenue. July revenues of $100 million collected by Washoe County casinos were the highest single-month figure for the Northern Nevada market since August 2002. Elko County saw revenues of $34.2 million, eclipsing its previous single month record recorded in March.

Gaming analysts have offered comparisons to 2020, when the pandemic closed casinos statewide for 78 days, and COVID-19 operating restrictions and health and safety protocols sent Nevada's gaming industry plummeting to its lowest single-month revenue total since 1997.

The bulk of the July gaming revenue came in ahead of the Control Board reimposing a mask mandate on casinos on July 30 that required facial coverings be worn by employees and customers regardless of vaccination status.

For the first seven months of 2021, statewide gaming revenues are up 5.8 percent compared to 2019 when Nevada recorded $12 billion in gaming revenue for only the third time in its history.

The record total didn’t help the Strip’s overall number, though; gaming revenues there are down 3.47 percent compared to the first seven months of 2019. Washoe County gaming revenues are up 23 percent compared to 2019, while Las Vegas locals market casinos are up 16.1 percent over 2019.

Strong July calendar

Control Board Senior Economic Analyst Michael Lawton called July “the perfect storm” for gaming revenues on the Strip because it included five weekends, the Fourth of July holiday and the first full month of operations from the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas, which opened on June 24 and is the Strip’s first all-new megaresort in more than a decade.

Among the special events during the month were a concert by country music’s Garth Brooks at Allegiant Stadium on July 10, along with UFC 264, also on July 10, featuring Conor McGregor versus Dustin Poirier. Lawton also noted the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Allegiant Stadium, played on Sunday, Aug. 1, between Mexico and the U.S., saying the weekend of visitation from soccer fans boosted the July numbers.

The month also included the return of Cirque Du Soleil’s “O” show to the Bellagio on July 1, Bruno Mars’ residency coming back to the Park MGM on July 3 and the opening of Usher’s residency at Caesars Palace on July 10.

The special events, as well as visitation to Resorts World, fueled high-end baccarat play with unusually active numbers for July. Revenues from the game topped $160.1 million, an increase of 107.3 percent compared to July 2019. Wagering was up 26.3 percent to $809.9 million. The casinos’ hold percentage on the game was an uncommon 19.77 percent compared to 12.03 percent in July 2019.

Lawton said other contributing factors to the Strip’s record-setting month included a return of leisure travel, fewer COVID-19 cases early in the summer and increased discretionary spending driven by aid from the federal stimulus package.

Strip casinos' slot machines were active during July as gamblers wagered $4.8 billion on the games, breaking a 14-year-old single-month record for volume. The activity resulted in slot revenues of $459.6 million, a 6.4 percent increase over July 2019 and the largest single-month slot machine revenue ever on the Strip, eclipsing last month’s $363.7 million.

A man with his dog travel on the Las Vegas Strip on Saturday, March 27, 2021. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Filling the rooms

The LVCVA said July’s 3.3 million visitors was 11.2 percent higher than June, but down 10.4 percent from July 2019. Hotel occupancy exceeded 79 percent in July with an 88.1 percent occupancy rate on weekends.

For the first seven months of the year, visitor volume is nearly 16.8 million, down 32.4 percent from the same point in 2019.

Southern Nevada’s average daily room rate was $152 in July, a 19 percent increase over May. LVCVA Vice President of Research Kevin Bagger said revenue per available room, a financial indicator, exceeded the 2019 comparable levels for the first time in more than a year, hitting an average of $120.79.

Beynon, however, told investors Thursday that Las Vegas’ convention business, which generally accounts for roughly 20 percent of all room nights, is close to non-existent.

“We believe any revenues from group and convention in 2021 is considered ‘gravy’ for the numbers,” Beynon said. “Given the convention slate, we believe the demand will be there (in 2022) should COVID permit the schedule.”

Sports betting

The Nevada sports betting industry continued its scorching pace in July with revenues of $33.3 million on wagers of $409.9 million. The figures were both all-time records for the month.

For the first seven months of 2021, sportsbooks are well ahead of the 2019 record year when the state saw $5.319 billion in wagers and $329.1 million in revenues. The Control Board said sports betting wagers are 35.5 percent over 2019 and revenues are up 68 percent.

Wagers placed through mobile apps accounted for 59 percent of July’s overall total.

Oh Canada

McCarran International Airport recorded its busiest month since January 2020 with more than 4.15 million passengers arriving and departing during July. The figure was a 7.9 percent decrease from July 2019.

In the first seven months of the year, McCarran's total passenger volume was nearly 20.1 million, down 32.5 percent from 2019.

International airline traffic had its busiest month since the pandemic began last year, recording more than 64,000 passengers which included direct flights from two countries, Mexico and Canada.

WestJet accounted for nearly 3,500 passengers of the monthly figure, adding flights to and from Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary. The rest of the passenger volume was composed of flights to and from Mexico.

A McCarran spokesman said WestJet and Air Canada added Las Vegas flights to and from Toronto during August.

Another billion-dollar gaming revenue month for Nevada, but Strip still lags

Nevada casinos have been on a heater since March.

But Strip resorts are still looking for a hot hand compared with the rest of the state.

June gaming revenue figures released Thursday by the Gaming Control Board marked Nevada’s fourth straight month that casinos statewide collected more than $1 billion in revenue. The overall total, $1.19 billion, fell short of May’s all-time single-month record of $1.23 billion.

Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said Nevada last recorded four straight billion-dollar revenue months in 2008, from January through April.

Compared to 2019 – 2020 monthly gaming totals were skewed by COVID-19 shutdowns, capacity restrictions and operating limitations – June saw an increase of 14.6 percent in total gaming revenue statewide. Last year, casinos statewide collected just $566.9 million in gaming revenue during the month after reopening on June 4.

A single month record statewide slot machine revenue figure of $868.1 million was the primary factor in June’s overall total. Wagering on slot machines statewide was $11.4 billion, up 19.7 percent from June 2019.

“The recent surge in statewide gaming win is the result of several contributing factors which include strong demand, the return of leisure travel, customers with savings that can be attributed to stimulus and the return of core customers including customers 55 and over,” Lawton said.

The past three months established the state’s largest-ever gaming revenue quarter — a combined $3.46 billion collected by casinos, besting the 2006 fourth quarter when Nevada casinos collected $3.266 billion.

Pedestrians walk on the Las Vegas Strip on Saturday, March 27, 2021. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

New mask mandate

June marked the first full month that casinos statewide were allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity without COVID-19 restrictions.

It’s unclear what the new mask mandates that go into effect after midnight on Friday might have on gaming operations. Because of spiking COVID-19 numbers and following a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation, the Control Board issued an order Tuesday for all casinos in Clark, Washoe and 10 other counties that requires employees and customers – regardless of vaccination status – to wear facial coverings while indoors.

Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas said in a pair of research notes to investors Wednesday that management for both Red Rock Resorts in Las Vegas and Atlantis owner Monarch Casinos in Reno didn’t believe the mask mandate would disrupt any recent favorable gaming and visitation trends.

“Monarch’s local customer mix is used to wearing masks, a sentiment echoed (by) Red Rock,” Jonas said. He added the mask mandate is not specific to just gaming.

“We think it’s too early to fully know the impact from this new policy, but we note the first quarter saw impressive results even with the same mask mandates,” Jonas said.

Strip recovery slow

Unlike much of the state, the Strip is still finding its footing.

During June, Strip casinos collected $610.6 million from gamblers, a decline of 1 percent from June 2019. The month included less than a week of operations from the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas, which opened before midnight on June 24.

Analysts noted the return of live entertainment in June, as well as the Strip’s first full-scale conference and tradeshow in more than a year when World of Concrete was held at Las Vegas Convention Center.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Vice President of Research Kevin Bagger said convention and group visitation data for the month is still being gathered. In addition to World of Concrete, Las Vegas saw attendance from three other shows that “helped support midweek business,” Bagger said.

Lawton said the conferences and entertainment were “positive events for driving visitation.”

Slot machine gambling propped up the Strip’s overall totals in June with a 34.4 percent increase in revenues to $376.8 million, compared to June 2019. Wagering on slot machines was $4.3 billion, a nearly 21 percent increase from 2019.

However, high-end baccarat play, a driver of Strip gaming activity, continued to lag behind 2019 totals. Baccarat revenues of $42.5 million were down 73.1 percent during the month.

Strip casinos collected a combined $1.75 billion in gaming revenues for the April-through-June second quarter, the third-highest quarter ever for the Strip. The figure fell short of the all-time record of $1.79 billion in the 2006 fourth quarter and $1.78 billion in the 2007 fourth quarter.

The Strip still trails Nevada’s overall recovery. Statewide, gaming revenues are up 1.5 percent for the first six months of the year compared to 2019. Strip gaming revenues are down 11.3 percent for the same time frame. Clark County as a whole, the Strip, North Las Vegas and Laughlin are the state’s only reporting areas down for the calendar year compared with 2019.

As for Las Vegas visitation, the LVCVA said more than 2.97 million visitors came to Southern Nevada in June, 3.2 percent more than 2.88 million visitors in May. June was the sixth consecutive month-over-month increase. However, the June total was 17.6 percent lower than June 2019.

Bagger said hotel occupancy reached 75.9 percent in June, a 5 percent increase over May but down nearly 16 percent from June 2019. Weekend occupancy reached 90 percent while the market’s average daily room rate of $127.90 surpassed June 2019 by 6.2 percent.

Circa Resort & Casino. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Record breaking month for downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is a different story.

The market recorded an all-time single month gaming revenue total of $79 million, breaking April’s previous mark of $76.3 million. For the April-through-June quarter, downtown’s gaming revenues topped $230 million, shattering the previous record of $183.6 million set in the 2019 fourth quarter.

Analysts credited last year’s opening of Circa Resort Casino with fueling downtown revenues as a whole.

Circa owner Derek Stevens, who also operates D Las Vegas and Golden Gate in downtown, said Thursday he was upbeat by the state’s overall numbers as well as downtown’s total. He cautioned, however, that it’s still early in the recovery.

“Month to month or a single quarter is not enough of a time frame to look at things,” Stevens said. He said Las Vegas needs international travel and the convention business to return because downtown casinos profit from those visitor segments.  

On Tuesday, Boyd Gaming said its two downtown casinos – a third, Main Street Station, remains closed – took in $38.3 million in revenues in the second quarter, a 39.8 percent decline compared with 2019. CEO Keith Smith said a continued decline in visitation from Hawaiian customers – its key downtown feeder market – has slowed a return to normal operations.

“We all benefit when the Hawaiian business comes back,” Stevens said.

International travel lags

McCarran International Airport reported 3.81 million arriving and departing passengers in June, which was down 14.3 percent from the 4.4 million recorded in June 2019. However, the figure was a slight increase over May’s passenger total of 3.5 million.

For the first six months of 2021, volume at the nation’s ninth busiest airport is down 36.9 percent compared to the same time period of 2019.

“What we’re seeing the past couple of months is that Vegas is in high demand for travel,” said McCarran spokesman Joe Rajchel. He said airlines have been evaluating the interest and adding flights where needed.

Lack of international airline travel, however, continues to be the largest contributor to the monthly declines compared to 2019. In June, just 53,400 international travelers were recorded during the month, a drop of 83.7 percent. For the year, international airline passenger volume is down 90.2 percent.

McCarran had direct airline flights to and from 11 countries before the pandemic. In June, four airlines serviced destinations in Mexico. Rajchel said airline service to and from Calgary, Alberta in Canada resumed through WestJet during July and will appear in next month’s report on passenger statistics.

Other June highlights

In Northern Nevada, Washoe County saw gaming revenues hit $88.4 million, an increase of 26.7 percent from June 2019. Reno casinos contributed $64.5 million to the total.

Nevada’s sportsbooks reported revenues of $29.2 million, an increase of 76 percent from June 2019. Sports wagering of $545.2 million was a 69.3 percent increase from June 2019. Both the revenue and wagering totals were all-time records for the month.

Mobile sports wagering accounted for 57.7 percent of all sports bets taken in June.

Nevada casinos’ take of $1.23 billion in May shatters nearly 14-year-old high

It seems there is something to the “pent-up demand” theory.

Nevada casinos collected a single-month record of $1.23 billion in gaming revenues during May, a stunning figure given that most casinos statewide were still operating under COVID-19 capacity restrictions that weren’t fully lifted until June 1.

The record figure, reported Wednesday by the Gaming Control Board, easily eclipsed the state’s previous single-month high of $1.165 billion recorded in October 2007.

Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said an all-time record on the Strip for slot machine revenues and a healthy month for the Strip’s high-end baccarat business fueled the results.

Lawton said all the sub-markets were up in May, “which can be attributed to strong demand, healthy consumers and leisure travel beginning to rebound.”

The $1.23 billion figure was up 25.3 percent over May 2019. The state is comparing monthly totals to 2019 because casinos statewide were closed in May 2020 during a 78-day shutdown of businesses during the pandemic.

On the Strip, gaming revenues of $655.5 million marked a 26.7 percent increase over May 2019. Strip resorts reported baccarat revenue of $105.9 million in May, an increase of 97 percent from 2019. Casinos played luckier during the month, holding more than 22 percent of all baccarat wagers, compared to a 7.7 percent hold in May 2019.

Record-busting slot machine revenues on the Strip came in at  $358.3, 24.5 percent over May 2019.

“Sequentially, gross gaming revenues (on the Strip) showed a nice acceleration,” J.P. Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff said in a research note. Even without including the baccarat, Greff said the Strip’s monthly revenue totals would have been up 19 percent with wagering volumes increasing 17 percent.

May marked the third straight month that Nevada gaming revenues eclipsed the $1 billion mark. For the first five months of 2021, statewide gaming revenues are down 1.3 percent compared to 2019, when the Nevada casinos collected more than $12 billion from gamblers, which was the first year the state hit such a lofty total since 2007.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said he wouldn’t be surprised if the results from the last three months in Las Vegas carry over into the summer.

“Looking ahead, although a traditionally weaker month of the year, June hosted two noticeable events, the World of Concrete, the (city’s) first major convention on June 8-10, and the Resorts World Las Vegas opening on June 24, the first major opening on the Strip in more than 10 years,” Beynon said in a research note.

On the Strip, despite May’s total number, gaming revenues are down more than 13.6 percent compared to the first five months of 2019.

International travel still down

Baccarat totals for the month aside, the Strip is still missing a key business segment – high-end international customers.

During May, McCarran International Airport reported its highest single-month passenger total since February 2020, the last full month of operations before the pandemic. Still, the more than 3.5 million passengers flying during the month of May still marked a 23.3 percent decline over May 2019.

International travel continues to be a challenge for Las Vegas, with just 50,258 passengers recorded in May, a decline of 85.1 percent —  all of the passenger traffic coming from Mexico. Las Vegas once had direct flights between 11 different countries.

In May, a Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion co-chaired by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) discussed ways to bring back the international travel market.

At last week’s grand opening event for Resorts World Las Vegas, Gov. Steve Sisolak acknowledged the need for international travel to help fill Las Vegas Strip hotel rooms.

Resorts World is owned by Malaysia-based Genting Berhad, which operates several large gaming properties throughout Asia.

“We’ll get international travel back in time,” Sisolak told The Nevada Independent. “It’s a key market. International customers spend more and stay longer.”

Sisolak said he discussed international travel issues with Genting Chairman K.T. Lam, who said the company has international customers who live in California and New York who will come to Resorts World Las Vegas.

For the first five months of 2021, McCarran’s passenger volume is down 41.7 percent over the same time frame as 2019.

Las Vegas visitation nears 3 million

Las Vegas saw a nearly 12 percent jump in visitor volume during May compared to April, but the market was still roughly 22 percent below its pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said Southern Nevada drew just under 2.9 million visitors in May, compared with almost 3.7 million visitors in May 2019. Still, Las Vegas saw its highest visitor count since the pandemic turned off the nationwide travel industry.

Las Vegas, for the 13th straight month, recorded a zero in convention attendance. But that streak is expected to end when June’s numbers are counted because of the World of Concrete trade show and other planned events.

Hotel occupancy reached nearly 71 percent in May, up 5.3 percent over April. Weekend room occupancy was at 88 percent. The LVCVA said midweek hotel occupancy was 62.8 percent, up 4.9 percent from April, but down by more than 25 percent compared with May 2019.

Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas was skeptical of Las Vegas sustaining the growth from the past three months because midweek occupancy “remains a concern.”

Jonas said he was “looking for green shoots [signs of economic recovery] to get more constructive as the convention calendar picks up.”

Good news outside the Strip

Casinos in downtown Las Vegas recorded their combined second-highest all-time monthly revenue total during May – $75.2 million – an increase of 37.2 percent over May 2019. The figure fell just below April’s single-month record of $76.3 million in gaming revenue.

Analysts have credited the opening last year of Circa Casino Resort as helping to bring additional business downtown. For the year, downtown gaming revenues are up 21 percent over 2019.

In Washoe County, casinos recorded the region’s highest monthly gaming revenue total since August 2008, $91.9 million, an increase of 23.1 percent.

Statewide, Nevada sports betting business set a monthly record during May for both revenues and total wagers. Sportsbook operators took in $477.4 million in bets during the month, an increase of 50.4 percent over 2019, while holding revenues of $27.1 million — a jump of 140 percent.

Mobile sports wagering accounted for 62 percent of all sports wagers in May.

Update at 6:06 p.m. on 6/30/2021: Las Vegas visitation numbers for May added.

Update at 10:53 a.m. on 6/30/2021: This story has been corrected to reflect that statewide gaming revenues for the first five months of 2021 were down (not up) 1.3 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

Nevada casinos’ take of $1.23 billion in May shatters nearly 14-year-old high

It seems there is something to the “pent-up demand” theory.

Nevada casinos collected a single-month record of $1.23 billion in gaming revenues during May, a stunning figure given that most casinos statewide were still operating under COVID-19 capacity restrictions that weren’t fully lifted until June 1.

The record figure, reported Wednesday by the Gaming Control Board, easily eclipsed the state’s previous single-month high of $1.165 billion recorded in October 2007.

Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said an all-time record on the Strip for slot machine revenues and a healthy month for the Strip’s high-end baccarat business fueled the results.

Lawton said all the sub-markets were up in May, “which can be attributed to strong demand, healthy consumers and leisure travel beginning to rebound.”

The $1.23 billion figure was up 25.3 percent over May 2019. The state is comparing monthly totals to 2019 because casinos statewide were closed in May 2020 during a 78-day shutdown of businesses during the pandemic.

On the Strip, gaming revenues of $655.5 million marked a 26.7 percent increase over May 2019. Strip resorts reported baccarat revenue of $105.9 million in May, an increase of 97 percent from 2019. Casinos played luckier during the month, holding more than 22 percent of all baccarat wagers, compared to a 7.7 percent hold in May 2019.

Record-busting slot machine revenues on the Strip came in at  $358.3,24.5 percent over May 2019.

“Sequentially, gross gaming revenues (on the Strip) showed a nice acceleration,” J.P. Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff said in a research note. Even without including the baccarat, Greff said the Strip’s monthly revenue totals would have been up 19 percent with wagering volumes increasing 17 percent.

May marked the third straight month that Nevada gaming revenues eclipsed the $1 billion mark. For the first five months of 2021, statewide gaming revenues are up 1.3 percent compared to 2019, when the Nevada casinos collected more than $12 billion from gamblers, which was the first year the state hit such a lofty total since 2007.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said he wouldn’t be surprised if the results from the last three months in Las Vegas carry over into the summer.

“Looking ahead, although a traditionally weaker month of the year, June hosted two noticeable events, the World of Concrete, the (city’s) first major convention on June 8-10, and the Resorts World Las Vegas opening on June 24, the first major opening on the Strip in more than 10 years,” Beynon said in a research note.

On the Strip, despite May’s total number, gaming revenues are down more than 13.6 percent compared to the first five months of 2019.

International travel still down

Baccarat totals for the month aside, the Strip is still missing a key business segment – high-end international customers.

During May, McCarran International Airport reported its highest single-month passenger total since February 2020, the last full month of operations before the pandemic. Still, the more than 3.5 million passengers flying during the month of May still marked a 23.3 percent decline over May 2019.

International travel continues to be a challenge for Las Vegas, with just 50,258 passengers recorded in May, a decline of 85.1 percent —  all of the passenger traffic coming from Mexico. Las Vegas once had direct flights between 11 different countries.

In May, a Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion co-chaired by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) discussed ways to bring back the international travel market.

At last week’s grand opening event for Resorts World Las Vegas, Gov. Steve Sisolak acknowledged the need for international travel to help fill Las Vegas Strip hotel rooms.

Resorts World is owned by Malaysia-based Genting Berhad, which operates several large gaming properties throughout Asia.

“We’ll get international travel back in time,” Sisolak told The Nevada Independent. “It’s a key market. International customers spend more and stay longer.”

Sisolak said he discussed international travel issues with Genting Chairman K.T. Lam, who said the company has international customers who live in California and New York who will come to Resorts World Las Vegas.

For the first five months of 2021, McCarran’s passenger volume is down 41.7 percent over the same time frame as 2019.

Good news outside the Strip

Casinos in downtown Las Vegas recorded their combined second-highest all-time monthly revenue total during May – $75.2 million – an increase of 37.2 percent over May 2019. The figure fell just below April’s single-month record of $76.3 million in gaming revenue.

Analysts have credited the opening last year of Circa Casino Resort as helping to bring additional business downtown. For the year, downtown gaming revenues are up 21 percent over 2019.

In Washoe County, casinos recorded the region’s highest monthly gaming revenue total since August 2008, $91.9 million, an increase of 23.1 percent.

Statewide, Nevada sports betting business set a monthly record during May for both revenues and total wagers. Sportsbook operators took in $477.4 million in bets during the month, an increase of 50.4 percent over 2019, while holding revenues of $27.1 million — a jump of 140 percent.

Mobile sports wagering accounted for 62 percent of all sports wagers in May.

This story will be updated later today with Las Vegas visitation numbers for May.

Nevada locals drive the state’s gaming revenue recovery in April

During a quarterly earnings conference call this month, Red Rock Resorts Chief Financial Officer Stephen Cootey touted the operating trends in the Las Vegas locals gaming market. Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith made a similar observation a week earlier.

“We continue to see strong visitation from a younger demographic, increased spend per visit, more time spent on devices, plus the growing return of our core customer,” Cootey said.

The comments by the top executives that oversee the majority of the off-Strip casino business were validated Thursday. The local gaming markets – suburban areas outside the Las Vegas Strip corridor – staged a post-pandemic comeback in April.

Combined gaming revenues of $244.8 million was an 18 percent increase compared to April 2019 according to results released Thursday by the Gaming Control Board. The neighborhood gaming figures – part of Clark County’s overall total of $865.4 million – were a factor in the month’s statewide $1.039 billion gaming revenue figure.

April 2021’s overall gaming revenue total was an 11 percent increase over $936.5 million recorded in April 2019 and a sign that areas of Nevada are bouncing back quicker than most analysts had anticipated.

The state’s overall April total marked the second straight month Nevada topped $1 billion in revenues as the industry recovers from the pandemic. COVID-19 closures and operating restrictions in 2020 sent the nation’s largest gaming market to record double-digit percentage declines and its lowest overall figures since the mid-1990s.

Gaming regulators and analysts are using 2019 numbers as a comparison for 2021 after casinos were closed a year ago for 78 days starting in mid-March.

Unlike Strip casinos, which rely heavily on destination travelers, neighborhood casinos are viewed similarly to regional jurisdictions, which count on a heavy drive-in customer.

“Nevada’s regional results were some of the strongest across the U.S.,” Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon told investors in a research note.

As for the Strip, gaming revenue totals of $483.4 million were a less than 1 percent increase over April 2019. The Strip was still bogged down in April by lack of conventions that bring in midweek visitation and the absence of international travel. McCarran International Airport had just 31,214 international travelers in April – all from Mexico – which was an overall decline of 90.3 percent for the month. In 2019, McCarran had nonstop service to and from 11 different countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea, China and Israel, but is now down to one due to pandemic travel restrictions.

Southern Nevada had more than 2.57 million visitors in April, an increase of 15.4 percent over March, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. However, compared to April 2019, the total was down 27.3 percent from 3.54 million.

In April, Las Vegas recorded its 13th straight month without convention and meeting attendees. Las Vegas hotel occupancy was at 65.6 percent in April with weekend occupancy at 83.5 percent.

‘Slots are off the charts’

Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said a deep dive into April’s gaming figures showed slot machine activity was a key reason for the statewide increase.

Statewide slot machine revenues of $793.7 million was up 20.5 percent compared to April 2019 and marked the highest single-month slot machine total in Nevada history, eclipsing the previous record of $779.6 million set in October 2007.

Wagering on slot machines increased 18.7 percent in the month to $11.1 million. The figure was the highest volume recorded since May 2008.

“Slots are off the charts,” Lawton said.

Good month for the locals

Casinos within the unincorporated areas of the Las Vegas Valley – referred to as the balance of Clark County – set an all-time record for consecutive gaming revenue months for April and May. The total of $137.6 million in April was a 34.8 percent increase over April 2019.

Beynon said the Las Vegas locals segment wasn’t the state’s only market showing signs of a rebound during April. Reno gaming revenues of $61.8 million were up 29% compared to April 2019 while downtown Las Vegas gaming revenues of $76.2 million increased 23 percent.

North Las Vegas was the only market in the state that didn’t report a revenue increase in April. Two casinos operated by Red Rock Resorts that are included in North Las Vegas totals, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station, have remained closed for more than a year.

Washoe County recorded its highest single-month gaming revenue total since July 2008 with $87.4 million, a jump of 32.8 percent over April 2019.

As the Strip goes, so does Nevada

Slot machine play saved the Strip’s overall total. Table game revenues declined 24.4 percent and baccarat revenues fell 57.5 percent. However, slot machine revenues of $327 million was up 18.9 percent compared to April 2019. More than $3.8 billion was wagered on slot machines at Strip resorts, a 15.8 percent increase from April 2019.

Las Vegas’ average daily room rate was $109 during April, 9.2 percent higher than March, but down 16.1 percent with pre-pandemic April 2019. LVCVA Vice President of Research Kevin Bagger said the improved occupancy and room rates translated into $71.74 in revenue per available room, a 29.1 percent increase over March but still 60 percent below 2019 levels. The calculation is used as a measure by analysts to assess profitability.

McCarran International Airport numbers in April showed improvement with 2.9 million passengers coming through the facility in April, a 12.9 percent increase from March, but was down 32 percent compared to April 2019.

Statewide, gaming revenues are up 34.8 percent over the dismal 2020 numbers. Compared to June 2020 when casinos resumed operations gaming revenues are down 10.1 percent.

Backing out the Strip’s 27.3 percent revenue decline since last June, Lawton said the state would be up 10.9 percent for the same time period and Clark County as a whole would be up 7.8 percent.

During April, casinos were operating at 80 percent capacity limits. The Gaming Control Board is rescinding all COVID-19 mitigation protocols starting Tuesday, allowing the gaming industry statewide to resume 100 percent operations.

Burdened by the pandemic, Nevada casinos see revenue drop more than $6 billion

The MGM Grand hotel and casino sign

As Nevada grappled with the effects of the pandemic, the gaming industry’s revenue dropped to $18.3 billion in the 2020 fiscal year, down 25.2 percent from $24.5 billion in the previous year, according to a new report from the Gaming Control Board.

The 179-page Nevada Gaming Abstract, which was released Friday, included data on the revenue made from gaming, rooms, food and beverage, and other sources by the 267 casinos that earned more than $1 million in gaming revenue during the fiscal year ending in June 2020. The number of businesses represented in the 2020 report — 267 licensees — marked a decline from the 290 included in the previous year’s report.

“The 2020 Nevada Gaming Abstract reinforces what we’ve known all along – that Nevada’s economic engine and largest taxpayer and employment sector has been devastated by the continuing impacts of the pandemic,” said Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, in a statement provided to The Nevada Independent.

With statewide revenue down $6.2 billion from the previous year, the gaming industry also significantly cut expenses.

Across all categories listed, payroll costs in the 2020 fiscal year decreased by approximately $215 million over the previous year. The decrease in payroll was matched by a significant loss in jobs during that same period, as the average number of employees in all departments dropped from 162,066 to 135,926.

A lightened payroll also brought the statewide general and administrative expenses down from $10.1 billion in the 2019 fiscal year to just $5.5 billion the following year. With expenses down significantly, the industry’s profit as a whole increased from $2.1 billion to $2.9 billion year over year.

Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, said in an email that the increase in profit also came because of several large real estate sales recorded in the Las Vegas Strip area. 

The revenue from those sales, including the sale of the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay properties by MGM Resorts International to the Blackstone Group Inc. in a $4.6 billion deal, helped counteract the significant losses in gaming revenue. 

The report also showed the significant effect that the pandemic shutdown had on the revenue made from rooms. In April 2020, only 2.4 percent of available rooms were filled at the casinos in the report, a massive drop from April 2019, when 87.2 percent of rooms were filled. With far fewer rooms occupied during the second quarter of 2020, the revenue from rooms dropped by 26.8 percent from the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Casino earnings from food and beverage sales dropped similarly. Across the state, revenue from food sales was down 25.8 percent, and revenue from beverage sales was down 28.7 percent, from the previous year.

The casinos on the Las Vegas Strip were more affected than casinos in any other part of the state, as they had the largest decrease in revenue by percent from the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, dropping 26.7 percent. However, with extra money coming in from real estate transactions, the Las Vegas Strip was also the area with the largest percentage increase in profit, with an increase of 162.1 percent compared to the previous year.

Because of that large increase and the number of major casinos in the area, the Las Vegas Strip accounted for $2.7 billion of the statewide industry’s $2.9 billion profit. In the previous fiscal year, the Las Vegas Strip accounted for $1 billion of the statewide $2.1 billion in profit.

Even as other areas remained profitable, the gaming industry in the rest of the state fared much worse, as casinos in downtown Las Vegas, Laughlin, Washoe County and Elko County all saw significant drops in profit from the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

The pandemic has affected the current fiscal year in a variety of ways, from the cancellation of events to capacity limits at venues to reduced travel. The next annual financial report on the gaming industry could paint a similar picture of decreased gaming revenues and low room occupancy rates.

But some are hopeful that a desire for travel and entertainment will help with the industry’s recovery this year. At last week’s Preview Las Vegas 2021, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Steve Hill said he thinks people will likely feel more comfortable with traveling by the second quarter of 2021. Valentine also noted the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“A critical component of our recovery depends on the distribution and acceptance of the vaccine,” Valentine said. “The sooner hospitality employees, which represent roughly one in every four Nevada jobs, can be vaccinated, the swifter we can restore our tourism-based economy, welcome back large events and trade shows, reopen dormant businesses and bring more Nevadans back to work.”

Nevada lawmakers will have $8.5 billion to budget for next two years, $400 million down from current biennium

Nevada lawmakers are facing down a legislative session of austerity after a panel of economists projected general fund revenues of about $8.5 billion over the next two years — a figure down about $400 million dollars from the $8.85 billion they projected for the current biennium in May 2019. 

Members of the Economic Forum solidified their official forecast in a virtual meeting on Thursday after taking into account the economic damage caused by coronavirus and efforts to slow it, as well as the uncertainty of additional federal stimulus aid. But it also comes against the backdrop of more hopeful news — that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans could receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the next two months, signaling a return to more normalcy.

“That the vaccines are going to start getting distributed — I think that’s encouraging news to a forecaster,” said fiscal analyst Russell Guindon of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

The forum — a five-member panel of appointed economists and analysts — approved the tax revenue projections after picking between predictions submitted by state fiscal analysts, the governor's budget office and Moody’s Analytics.

Though the forum will meet again in May to set a final revenue projection, the totals approved on Thursday give Gov. Steve Sisolak and the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature a sense of the playing field as they craft and then fine-tune the state’s two-year budget during the 2021 legislative session. Nevada’s Constitution requires the state to adhere to a balanced budget, not spending more than it brings in.

But the tax revenue projections approved by the forum highlight the level of budget cuts that lawmakers will need to approve come February 2021 after years of sustained growth in the state’s general budget account.

Sisolak last month asked state agencies to prepare up to 12 percent cuts in their budget for each year of the coming budget cycle, down from the levels approved during the 2019 regular session. State agency budget requests submitted in October totaled out to 9.67 billion, so an across-the-board 12 percent reduction would likely bring spending totals in line with the tax revenue projected Thursday by the Forum.

In a statement Thursday, the governor said the Forum's report was a "sober reminder of the devastating impacts COVID-19 has caused in our state."

"This global pandemic has created both a fiscal and economic crisis in our state, and my Office, the Governor’s Finance Office and state agencies will continue the challenging task of preparing an Executive Budget based on our new fiscal reality with the goal of preserving vital services as we plan for a post-COVID future," he said in a statement.

A coalition of more than 60 organizations wrote to Sisolak this week asking him to include tax increases in his budget proposal. The group, which includes an array of unions and other  progressive groups, offered its support, saying it recognized that there would be “significant political capital and support needed to raise revenue, especially during an economic downturn.”

“We ask that as you prepare budgetary recommendations for the 81st Legislative session, you take bold action to diversify and increase revenue streams into the state coffers in lieu of making catastrophic budgetary cuts that will disproportionately harm the most vulnerable Nevadans,” the group said.

The Legislature may also take up two initiative petitions spearheaded by the Clark County Education Association — one to raise a tax on gaming and the other to raise the sales tax. The measures have garnered the required signatures, so barring a legal blockade, lawmakers will have the option of acting on the proposals or punting them to voters in 2022.

Lawmakers held a special session over the summer to cut the budget halfway through the two-year cycle in response to declining tax revenues. The projections approved Thursday for the biennium that starts next summer are $418 million above what the state expects to have collected at the end of the ongoing biennium, given plummeting revenues in recent months.

By fiscal year 2023, the state expects to have rebounded and be bringing in slightly more than the $4.287 billion brought in during fiscal year 2019.

Below are details on the projections that make up the overall general fund forecast.

Gaming percentage fees 

Forum members predicted the state will bring in $1.39 billion in revenue from gambling taxes in the upcoming biennium —  a number lower than the $1.6 billion the forum predicted in late 2018 for the current biennium.

Gambling revenues are rebounding from an effective standstill earlier this year when casinos were closed for 11 weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The amounts of money that casinos “won” from gambling in both the current fiscal year and the one that finished this summer is the lowest in at least a decade.

Casinos are still suffering as large events that bring gamblers were canceled, current restrictions limit casino floors to 25 percent capacity, and record-setting coronavirus case counts deter people from traveling. Three major casinos — the Rio, The Palms and Virgin Hotels (formerly the Hard Rock) — have yet to reopen, and several other major resorts are closing their doors midweek because business is slow.

But slot play has remained a bright spot that led to tax revenues that overperformed forecasters’ expectations. Slot tax revenue in some parts of the state has returned to pre-pandemic levels as local Nevada residents continue playing even while tourists remain scarce.

Guindon said he’s keeping an eye on whether the stronger-than-expected gambling revenue is a reflection of “cabin fever” and people seeking out casinos in the absence of the full spectrum of entertainment options. Analysts are also monitoring whether gambling will dwindle as the effect of federal stimulus money — including unemployment — wears off.

“I’ve been told by several operators, ‘yes, stimulus is helping.’ And they also feel that it’s wearing off,” said Michael Lawton of the Gaming Control Board.

Sales tax

Nevada’s 2 percent sales and use tax makes up the largest portion of collected state tax revenues, with forum members projecting that it will raise a total of $2.489 billion over the two years of the budget cycle. That’s a drop from the $2.6 billion projection forecasters made two years ago for the current biennium.

But forum members and state fiscal analysts said that any projections regarding future performance of the sales tax would be greatly affected by whether the federal government is able to pass another substantial COVID-19 related stimulus package in the near future, and how large it might be.

Members of the forum had asked staff to prepare two sets of data regarding the sales tax — one scenario estimating a $1.5 trillion stimulus package and one without. Sans a stimulus package, state analysts estimated that performance of the sales tax would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest, with the state’s leisure and hospitality sector suffering the most.

Nevada’s statewide sales tax is 4.6 percent — 2 percent going to the state’s general budget fund, and another 2.6 percent going to K-12 education through the Local School Support Tax. But the actual sales tax is higher given that counties and other local governments have added other sales tax add-ons, meaning the state’s average sales tax is closer to 8.32 percent.

Ultimately, members of the forum opted to adopt a projection averaging out the “baseline” scenario including the $1.5 trillion stimulus and the no-stimulus scenario, saying it was the best way to hedge against future uncertainties and because the most recent news on federal stimulus negotiations indicate that the size of the package will be around $908 billion, or about 60 percent of the stimulus scenario.

“So the numbers are big, the variances are big, it's important that we try to get this right with imperfect information,” forum member Linda Rosenthal said. “But given what we know, like I said, I think there will be a stimulus. The question is how much.”

Modified Business Tax

The modified business tax (MBT) is projected to bring in $1.45 billion in the next biennium, or slightly more than the $1.37 billion the forum predicted two years ago.

The majority of the revenue comes from the “general business” category, which has a tax rate of 1.475 percent on wages, excluding the first $50,000 and health-care deductions. Financial institutions and mining businesses have different rates. 

The general business category is suffering the effects of widespread unemployment and shrinking payrolls, although it is on the mend.

The remaining two categories, however, have been robust even during the pandemic. The financial institutions category is seeing brisk business as banks have been active in administering federal Paycheck Protection Program loans and playing a part in the mortgage refinancing boom.

Mining payrolls have also grown because mining is countercyclical and generally booms while the larger economy struggles.

The MBT accounts for about 16 percent of Nevada’s general fund revenues.

Live entertainment tax

Nevada’s live entertainment industry suffered a crushing blow as the state enacted gathering limits to prevent the spread of COVID. Even today, the state bans events of more than 50 people or more than 25 percent capacity in a venue, which precludes the large-scale spectaculars that dazzle tourists and employ thousands of artists and production staff.

Revenues from the tax, which applies to tickets, have effectively zeroed out, but the forum is predicting the tax will yield $183 million in the coming biennium. That’s well below the $258 million that forecasters predicted two years ago for the current biennium.

Forecasters don’t expect revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels until mid-2022. Another variable is how long it might take for shows and events that have been dark for months to regroup, and how many will never return.

But a vaccine is expected to make a major difference. Lawton said he believes recovery will be “swifter and stronger than originally anticipated” once capacity caps lift.

The tax is a 9 percent admission charge on a live entertainment venue that seats more than 200 people, although exceptions include tickets to a professional sporting event in which a Nevada-based team is playing — such as a Raiders or Golden Knights home game. The tax accounts for about 3 percent of Nevada’s general fund revenue.

Other taxes

The Commerce Tax, which is assessed on businesses with gross revenues of more than $4 million a year, is expected to yield about $418 million in revenue in the coming biennium. That’s a drop from the $445 million the forum had predicted for the current biennium when it met two years ago.

That’s expected to be reduced by about $89 million when eligible businesses claim tax credits against their MBT obligations.

The insurance premium tax is expected to bring in a little more than $1 billion over the biennium, which is a bump from the $950 million the state expected from the tax when it made projections two years ago.

Other tax credits, including those for K-12 educational scholarships, companies that shoot films in Nevada and businesses that relocate or expand in Nevada, are expected to shave another $84 million from overall general fund revenue.

Economic Forum Projections - December 2020 by Michelle Rindels on Scribd

Updated at 5:31 p.m. to include a statement from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

With casinos shut down, gaming revenue plummets to near-zero in April

Aria sign with message of noting is more important to us than your health, well-being and safety. We look forward to welcoming you back soon.

Signaling the deep economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, statewide gambling revenue in April dropped 99.61 percent compared to what casino and online operators collected in April last year, the Gaming Control Board reported.

State taxes based on that revenue fell by an even steeper number: 99.96 percent. 

The steep drop-off in revenue and taxes from the gaming sector added to already significant losses in March, when the state reported a nearly 40 percent drop in revenue.

Gambling operators on the Las Vegas Strip and in downtown Las Vegas buoyed what little revenue was generated across the state. In total, Clark County generated about $3.7 million in revenue for April 2020, compared to the roughly $809 million generated in April 2019. 

Revenue was still collected on mobile sports betting and interactive poker. 

Outside of the Las Vegas Strip, downtown Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Elko County and the Carson Valley area, all other jurisdictions reported negative gaming revenue. 

Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, said that “in several markets, sports books recorded losses primarily due to mobile betting activity or the payment to customers on uncashed tickets (winners) in April on events which occurred in preceding months.”

As a result, statewide gambling revenue was reported at about $3.6 million, lower than the amount reported in Clark County. That represented a 99.61 percent drop compared to the roughly $936 million collected statewide in April 2019. It also meant a sharp decrease in the amount of taxes that the state collected. The state collected $19,107 in taxes, based on the April 2020 revenue, compared to the nearly $51 million collected last year. 

Taxes directly from gambling comprise about 18 percent of the state’s general fund