Commercial Gaming

Nevada Casinos Experience Record Gaming Revenue, Pent-Up Demand a Real Thing

Pent-up demand has been the go-to phrase for casino execs in explaining their optimism in the aftermath of COVID-19. Per the latest casino report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, that pent-up demand is certainly fueling a swift industry rebound.

Las Vegas visitors line up for a photo op in front of the Strip’s iconic welcome sign. Pent-up demand is driving guests back to Nevada, and casinos are benefiting. (Image: The Guardian)

Nevada casinos won $1.23 billion in May of 2021, the all-time highest monthly mark in the long history of the state’s gaming industry. 

The $1.23 billion win represents a 25 percent premium in May 2019. May 2021 easily topped Nevada’s previous monthly record of $1.17 billion, which was set in October of 2007. 

Clark County set its own all-time monthly record, Las Vegas casinos and properties in the surrounding area winning more than $1 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR). 

May 2021 represents an all-time record for gaming win in Nevada and Clark County, the result of an all-time record slot win in addition to a very good baccarat month (hold related),” explained Michael Lawton, research analyst for the Gaming Control Board.

“All markets were up versus 2019, which can be attributed to strong demand, healthy consumers, and leisure travel beginning to rebound,” Lawton continued.

Statewide, slot terminals kept $840.9 million of gamblers’ money. Table games generated a GGR of $389.2 million. 

Vegas Market Breakdown

The Las Vegas Strip reported a GGR of $655.4 million in May, nearly 27 percent better than May 2019. However, year to date, Strip casino win is down 13.6 percent compared with the same five months in 2019.

Downtown continued its strong recovery last month. Fremont Street casinos won $75.2 million, just shy of its all-time best of $76.3 million set in April.

Washoe County, home to Reno, reported a GGR of $91.9 million. That’s up 23 percent from May 2019 and is the county’s highest gaming revenue mark since August of 2008. Through May, Reno casino revenue is up 21 percent. 

The New Roaring 20s

Pent-up demand and predictions forecasting a new “Roaring 20s” have been the primary talking points in the US gaming industry since the country began overcoming the pandemic. 

A few notable Las Vegas power players who have echoed such a prosperous outlook include Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle, and Derek Stevens, owner of three downtown Las Vegas casino resorts. 

Late last year, Maddox expressed his opinion that 2021 will be similar to the 1920s, a period of economic prosperity that followed World War I and the Spanish Flu.

I think 2021 will be similar to the Roaring ’20s after the pandemic of 1918 and 1919. It was like, ‘Oh my God, we survived this. Let’s go have fun,'” Maddox stated.

“I think there is so much demand to be able to get back out of the house and have a little bit of fun. It’s going to be like the Roaring 20s,” Stevens said in February.

During MGM’s first quarter 2021 investor call, Hornbuckle said visitors are flocking back to the Strip.

“Our gross bookings in March were one of the best months in the company’s history, clearly backed by pent-up leisure and casino demand,” the MGM boss said.

May marked Nevada’s third consecutive month reporting GGR upwards of $1 billion. The last time the state experienced three months over $1 billion came from December 2019 through February 2020.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

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Devin O'Connor