Nevada Casinos Let the Booze Flow in 2019, Post Record Food and Bev Sales

Posted on: February 9, 2020, 12:54h. 

Last updated on: February 9, 2020, 04:13h.

Nevada casinos served up more than $5 billion in meals and drinks during the 2019 fiscal year, an all-time record for the resorts.

Nevada casinos revenue food bev
Nevada casinos were heavy on the pours in 2019. (Image: GQ)

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) released its 2019 Gaming Abstract on Friday, which is a report of combined financial information of casinos grossing a minimum of $1 million or more in gaming revenue during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. A total of 290 casino licensees qualified for inclusion.

Revenue for the 290 casinos totaled more than $24.54 billion. Gaming accounted for the largest share (35.7 percent) at $8.75 billion. Rooms were next at $6.44 billion, or 26.3 percent of the resort revenue.

Casinos plated $3.03 billion worth of meals and poured $2.08 billion in drinks, respectively 17.2 and 8.5 percent of the gross income.

After expenses, the casinos reported net income of $2.05 billion, which reversed a net loss of $1.16 billion in the 2018 fiscal year. Caesars Entertainment’s bankruptcy reorganization was the culprit for 2018’s loss.

In FY2019, the average casino in the abstract had revenue of $84.6 million.

Reason to Celebrate, or Loathe?

Casinos in Las Vegas and throughout the state no longer heavily rely on their gaming operations. Two decades ago, gross gaming revenue (GGR) accounted for 54.7 percent of total revenue. Now, casino win is responsible for less than 36 percent.

The resorts have increased revenues in other departments, including rooms, food and beverage, and entertainment and retail.

Casinos collected roughly $4.26 billion from their guestrooms in 2009 – meaning hotel revenue has surged 51 percent, or $2.18 billion, in just a decade. Room occupancy was 82.2 percent in 2009, and 84.9 percent last year.

Higher occupancy rates leads to higher nightly charges. But the 2.7 percent occupancy increase isn’t the only reason why casinos saw room revenue jump nearly $2.2 billion. Over the last decade, casinos have consistently raised their resort fees – those pesky, mandatory add-on charges to nightly rates that provide such amenities as fitness center use, free local and toll-free calls, boarding pass printing, and Wi-Fi.

Daily resort fees are as high as $45 a day at luxury properties such as the Bellagio, Wynn, and Palazzo.

Comparing Comps

Food and beverage sales reporting record revenues in 2019 is facing some backlash from critics, who say the casinos are simply increasing their earnings by reducing patron perks.

“It’s because the beverages used to be free, but now you can almost die of thirst waiting for a free drink,” one Twitter user commented. However, comparing the 2019 NGCB Gaming Abstract to the 2009 report, casinos are actually handing out more food and beverage comps.

 2009       2019

Food Comps  $659K     $686K (+4.1 percent)

Free Drinks    $601K      $940K (+56.4 percent)

The complimentary food and beverages are included in the report’s total revenue.

Casinos also handed out more comped rooms in 2019. More than $1.27 billion in free hotel stays were provided, up from $940.4 million in 2009.