Airport Passenger Totals, Casino Wins Plummet in Las Vegas

Posted on: March 25, 2021, 03:43h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 01:27h.

Passenger travel in and out of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport fell sharply in February, down more than 58 percent compared to the same month last year. This pandemic-related drop is reflected in February casino win totals, down nearly 30 percent in Clark County.

McCarran International Airport
A passenger aircraft lifts off from McCarran International Airport near hotel-casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Airline passenger totals and gaming wins have declined in Las Vegas during the pandemic. (Image:

Last month, 1.6 million arriving and departing passenger made their way through McCarran airport, compared to almost 3.9 million in February 2020, according to figures released Thursday by the Clark County Department of Aviation. This resulted in a 58.2 percent decline.

The airport is just east of the Las Vegas Strip, near the major hotel-casinos at the southern end of the resort corridor.

Because of its remote desert location, Las Vegas relies on airlines to bring in large numbers of passengers. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last March, McCarran’s arriving and departing passenger totals have been down by more than 30 million people.

Casino Woes Continue

With this slump in tourism, casinos in February 2021 experienced a sharp falloff in the amount of money won from gamblers when compared to the previous February.

The biggest drop in casino win totals came on the Las Vegas Strip, where the state’s largest casinos are located. 

This February, casinos on the Strip won about $348 million, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board figures released Thursday. One year earlier, those casinos pulled in $596 million from gambling. This represents a drop of 41.55 percent. 

Statewide, the gaming win was down 25.93 percent in February 2021, compared to February 2020. Downtown Las Vegas saw a decline of 7.12 percent, while North Las Vegas was off by 12.22 percent.

In Laughlin, located south of Las Vegas across the Colorado River from Arizona, the gaming win was down 30.81 percent. 

Some gaming win totals were positive, especially in areas less dependent on airline travel.

In Northern Nevada, Reno was down by 13.72 percent. However, neighboring Sparks and nearby South Lake Tahoe experienced an increase in the gaming win. The Carson Valley south of Reno also saw its gaming win total go up in February 2021, compared to February 2020.

Virgin Las Vegas Begins Operations

Despite gloomy travel and casino win numbers, some brighter signs are popping up in Southern Nevada.

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas opened on Thursday at the site of the renovated and rebranded Hard Rock on Paradise Road east of the Strip. 

In addition, larger crowds have been in town this month during the nationally televised men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The March Madness games are being played in Indiana this year, but the tournament traditionally attracts large crowds to Nevada casinos.

The larger crowds also are a result of the gaming floor capacity being increased this month under state COVID-19 guidelines. The capacity is up from 35 percent to 50 percent.

Gaming activity is improving because of “capacity limitations being increased and stimulus checks, which are acting as a catalyst to elevated spending by consumers,” Michael Lawton of the Control Board told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Tourism officials also are encouraged that World of Concrete, which attracts up to 60,000 people, has scheduled a convention in Las Vegas this summer. Conventions and special events are considered vital in filling up hotel rooms in the Las Vegas Valley, especially during the slow middle of the week.