Las Vegas Strip Struggles Continue in November, Things Better Downtown

Posted on: December 29, 2020, 09:08h. 

Last updated on: December 29, 2020, 10:08h.

The Las Vegas Strip continues to drag down Nevada’s gaming industry — the richest in the country — amid a steep downturn in visitors and ongoing COVID-19 regulations.

Las Vegas gaming revenue Circa downtown
The hype surrounding Circa Las Vegas fueled an increase in gaming revenue in the downtown area last month. (Image: Las Vegas Magazine)

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reports gross gaming revenue (GGR) on the Strip last month totaled $349.8 million. That’s a 32.5 percent reduction from November 2019.

The Strip’s November performance is also a setback from October.  That’s when the main drag showed signs of life by posting its highest monthly revenue mark ($375 million) since Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all state gaming operations to halt in mid-March.

Of the 20 metered markets in the November GGR report, the Strip posted the largest year-over-year percentage decline.

The Strip relies on tourism and the convention business, which is nearly nonexistent at the moment. Las Vegas visitor volume is down almost half through October. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will release November’s figures later today.

The Strip’s struggles weighed heavily on the rest of Nevada’s gaming industry. Statewide GGR totaled $771.1 million, a nearly 18 percent drop.

Downtown Turnaround

Just a couple miles north of the Strip ghost town, downtown Las Vegas casinos fared well in November. Excitement is budding in the Fremont Street area with the opening of Circa, the first from-the-ground-up casino resort downtown in 40 years.

After opening the two-story casino and sportsbook and outdoor Stadium Swim amphitheater in October, Circa began welcoming its first hotel guests this week. The property has lured locals and visitors alike downtown, and it’s paying off in terms of GGR.

Downtown casinos kept $53 million of gamblers’ money last month, an almost two percent premium on November 2019. Though GGR from slot machines fell 11 percent to $29.5 million, table game win climbed 25 percent to $23 million.

But the roughly two percent year-over-year gaming win improvement was predominantly led by a massive surge in sports betting. Sports bettors have flocked to Circa to see what’s billed as “the largest sports betting experience in the world.”

Downtown sportsbooks won $14.3 million in November, a 127 percent year-over-year gain. Bettors wagered $47.7 million, a more than 33 percent increase from last year. Oddsmakers also fared better, their hold percentage jumping from 4.4 percent in November 2019, to 7.5 percent last month.

Sports Surge

Downtown wasn’t the only place where sports betting helped offset some of the losses incurred by reduced slot and table game play. Nevada oddsmakers took in roughly $607 million in bets, and reported a hold rate of a little more than 10 percent to win $61.8 million.

Football dominated the month, with bets on NFL and college games generating $502 million in wagers. The house won 11 percent of the time to keep $56 million of the action.

Nevada’s sports betting handle of $607 million is a far cry from New Jersey’s $931.6 million record handle month it posted in November.