Nevada Casinos Win $1 Billion in February Thanks to Chinese New Year

Posted on: March 28, 2018, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: March 28, 2018, 05:39h.

Nevada casinos collectively won $1,017,914,000 during February, a nearly eight percent premium on the same month in 2017.

Nevada casinos revenue Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas catered to Chinese travelers celebrating the New Year of the Dog last month, and it paid off for Nevada Casinos. (Image: Bellagio/MGM Resorts)

It’s the second straight month that the industry has surpassed the $1 billion mark, and the first back-to-back 10-digit performance since the ceremonial feat was accomplished in March and April of 2008. February 2018 is the 37th time Silver State casinos have won at least $1 billion.

Las Vegas Strip revenue increased to $603.5 million, a more than 11 percent jump. It’s the Strip’s first monthly gain since the October 1 mass shooting.

While the February casino report is welcomed news, it should be taken in perspective. The driving reason for the gaming surge is due to the fact that the Chinese New Year fell in February this year, as compared to January in 2017.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said the calendar shift of the Chinese New Year led to “expected” revenue increases.

Baccarat Fuels Revenue

The Chinese New Year marks the arrival of the new moon. The public holiday is celebrated for a week, with most workers off the entire period. Also known as the Spring Festival, in 2018 the event began on Friday, February 16, which initiated the Year of the Dog.

The holiday is a high travel period, with an estimated 1.4 billion Chinese citizens traveling by train, bus, and air during the week. While the Macau Tourism Office said about 960,000 visitors came to the gaming enclave during the New Year period, many also went to Las Vegas.

That’s evident by the strong increase in baccarat play, the game of choice for many Asian gamblers. Nevada casinos won $177.3 million on their baccarat tables, a more than 80 percent upswing.

Baccarat, which is commonly found along the Strip where wealthy Asian travelers tend to stay, has now put the main drag back into positive territory for the first two months of 2018. Year to date, Strip casinos’ gross gaming revenue (GGR) totals $1.158 billion, a 0.6 percent gain on 2017.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) reports that Las Vegas hosted 3.13 million travelers in February, which is actually a slight decline from last year (-0.6 percent). However, there was also nearly 1,200 fewer available hotel rooms, as ongoing renovations take place throughout the city.

Sportsbooks Keep Winning

Oddsmakers kept almost $10.7 million in bets for their employers, but that represents a 48 percent decline compared to February 2017 when they won $20.7 million.

The win percent for sportsbooks was just 2.6 percent last month, compared to 5.5 percent in the previous year.

Regardless, February marked the 55th consecutive monthly win for sportsbooks. ESPN gambling writer David Purdum reports that the last time oddsmakers were beat in a month by gamblers came back in July of 2013.

Basketball led the way in terms of win with $11.6 million. But profits were slashed by winning football ticket slips being cashed, which cost sportsbooks $2.5 million.