Nevada Casinos Post Worst Month in More Than Two Decades, Revenue Totals $618M

Posted on: April 29, 2020, 10:08h. 

Last updated on: April 29, 2020, 10:54h.

Nevada casinos won just $618.1 million on their floors last month from being closed for nearly half of March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada casinos Las Vegas revenue
The Las Vegas people might be strong, but Nevada casinos were weak in terms of revenue last month. (Image: Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada’s casinos were ordered to shutter their operations on March 17 by Governor Steve Sisolak (D). As a result, statewide gross gaming revenue (GGR) plummeted 39.57 percent, compared with March 2019.

The Las Vegas Strip was hurt even worse, as casinos there won just shy of $300 million – a 45.6 percent drop. None of the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s metered markets posted a year-over-year GGR increase.

March’s dismal performance trailed three consecutive months in which Nevada casinos won more than $1 billion in each. February was the best February in the history of Nevada’s legal gaming industry. The month benefited from the additional Leap Year day, plus the Chinese New Year occurring in February.

Ides of March

Everyone knew March was going to be bad. Even if casinos weren’t forced to shutter, analysts were forecasting a severe dip in revenue. The coronavirus originated out of China, and President Donald Trump issued a travel ban January 31 barring entries on anyone who had been in the People’s Republic within the previous 14 days.

China is the single largest outbound travel market in the world in terms of spending. Those who venture from the mainland to Sin City often play high-stakes baccarat. On the Strip, revenue from that table game fell more than 17 percent in March to $42.46 million.

Baccarat wasn’t alone. Every table game saw win tumble, including blackjack and craps – both down 60 percent, and roulette plunging 70 percent. GGR from slot machines decreased 37 percent to $184.97 million. Penny slots won just $78.3 million, a decline of 33 percent.

Nevada sportsbooks took just $141.2 million in wagers, the smallest March handle since 1993. The NCAA’s March Madness men’s college basketball tournament, one of the busiest times of the year for oddsmakers, was called off because of the health crisis.

Sisolak Extending Closures

Today, Nevada’s governor revealed what most Nevadans were expecting: the odds favor him extending the state’s stay-at-home order past April 30. Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the Democratic first-term governor said Nevada isn’t ready to ease safety restrictions.

Unfortunately, we’re going to have to extend the stay-at-home order a little bit. We just have not reached exactly where we want to get in the downward trajectory,” Sisolak said.

“Our statistics have plateaued. We’ve got almost 5,000 cases … and 225 fatalities, so those numbers have kind of stabilized,” the governor explained. “Hospitalizations and intensive care hospitalizations have begun to decline. And so, we are looking forward to continue to bring our economy back to life a little bit.”

Sisolak announced this week that Nevada is joining the Western States Pact to formulate best practices to reopen the five states in the alliance.