Nevada Casinos Top $1 Billion in March, Sportsbooks Set Basketball Handle Record

Posted on: May 1, 2018, 06:35h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2018, 06:35h.

Nevada casinos collectively won more than $1 billion in March, which marks the industry’s third consecutive month eclipsing the celebratory threshold.

Nevada casinos March revenue
Fans once again packed the Westgate’s International Theater for March Madness, as sportsbooks around the state helped Nevada casinos again win over $1 billion. (Image: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Statewide, gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled $1.024 billion, a 3.4 percent premium on March 2017. Casinos are now 2.85 percent ahead of where they were this time last year through the first three months in 2018.

The Strip was chiefly responsible for the revenue surge, as GGR came in 9.1 percent higher at nearly $574 million. Baccarat was the driving force, as casinos won $114.8 million on the table game at a 14 percent win rate.

Penny slots accounted for the lion’s share of GGR statewide, with the machines winning $283.3 million. Baccarat was next at $117.2 million, then blackjack ($95.2 million), craps and sports operations (both at $34.1 million), and roulette ($29 million).

Nevada Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton pointed out that January, February, and March’s $1 billion hauls are the first time since 2008 that Silver State casinos have surpassed the 10-digit plateau in three consecutive months.

March 2018 benefited from an extra Saturday compared to the month in 2017. While gaming was strong, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reported that visitor volume totaled 3.75 million, a nearly one percent drop. 

Sportsbooks Prosper

Along with the healthy March gaming report includes revenues from sportsbook operations. And last month, oddsmakers scored a slam dunk on basketball.

A record $436.5 million was bet on the sport, the most coming on college’s NCAA March Madness. Sportsbooks reported a win rate of 8.71 percent, meaning hoops generated more than $38 million for the house.

While the $436.5 million handle is a new high for basketball, oddsmakers actually won eight percent less than in March 2017 when they won over $41.2 million on a 9.6 percent win rate.   

March 2018 was the seventh straight March that posted a new record handle for basketball, as the popularity of gambling on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament continues to increase.

Viva Strip

Perhaps the best news in the release is that Strip revenues have reversed course after four consecutive monthly declines following the October 1 massacre. Strong baccarat play suggests that visitors from Asian countries are returning to Las Vegas.

GGR along the Strip decreased from October through January. A primary financial concern was determining how long Asian visitors, which are critical to the main drag, would stay away.

Caesars CEO Mark Frissora said in October that “people in Asia are very respectful of the deaths,” and added regarding a mourning period, “I’ve heard that it’s sometimes a period of three, four months.”

Baccarat, the most popular game among travelers from Asian countries, saw win amounts fall in each of the four months, the largest coming in December when the table game’s revenues retracted 30 percent.

But Frissora being told the mourning period would last up to four months seems accurate, as baccarat play has posted big gains in February and March (respectively 83 percent and 115 percent). Year to date, GGR on the Strip is up 3.3 percent.