Reno-Tahoe Room Tax Collections Soar as COVID-19 Recovery Continues

Posted on: August 24, 2022, 03:16h. 

Last updated on: August 25, 2022, 01:00h.

It’s often viewed as Nevada’s “other” gaming market, or the little brother to Las Vegas. But Reno-Tahoe is on its own blistering pace of attracting tourists this year. That’s validated by room tax revenue surging to record levels in the recently completed 2022 fiscal year.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino resort, seen in an advertisement above. The Reno-Tahoe market is breaking room tax records. (Image: Twitter)

New data from the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) indicates the region, which includes Reno, Sparks, and Incline Village, are benefiting from higher room rates. Yet there’s still work to be done to return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels.

Taxable room revenues for the month of June 2022 of $47,554,579 are above June 2019 by $10,525,339 (28.4%). Cash occupied room nights of 308,467 are below 2019 by 9,781 (-3.1%). Comp occupied room nights of 70,125 are below 2019 by 6,585 (-8.6%), and 28-day occupied room nights of 90,105 are below 2019 by 31,453 (-25.9%). Total occupied rooms for the month of June 2022 (Cash, Comp, 28-day) are 47,819 (-9.3%) below 2019,” according to the RSCVA.

Through June, overall occupancy rates in Washoe County are 70.3% compared with 70.9% in the same period in 2019.

“Year-to-date cash occupied room nights of 3,220,884 are (-7.2%) below 2019. Cash average rates year-to-date of $141.89 is $26.36 (22.8%) above 2019. Year-to-date, total taxable room revenues of $457,004,892 are $55,847,659 (13.9%) above 2019,” added the RSCVA.

Catalysts for Potential Reno Visitation Increase

Reno-Tahoe will never rival Las Vegas from a gross gaming revenue (GGR) and overall visitation perspective. But there are potential catalysts that could lure more visitors to Northern Nevada.

Notably, Legends Bay Casino opens in Sparks later this month, marking the region’s first from-the-ground-up integrated resort in 30 years. That venue will also include a Circa Sports sportsbook, meaning one of the biggest names in Las Vegas sports wagering is making its debut in Northern Nevada.

Legends Bay was conceived 15 years ago and has since encountered its share of hurdles. It was initially stymied by the global financial crisis, which ravaged Nevada’s economy. That prompted developers to employ a phased approach to getting the venue going. More recently, the coronavirus pandemic slowed construction at the property.

Additionally, Yahoo! recently named Monarch Casino & Resorts’ Atlantis among the best domestic casinos. One of the operator’s two venues, Atlantis, is located in Reno.

Other Positive Signs for Reno

Data from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority confirms year-to-date arrivals at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport are easily eclipsing pre-pandemic levels. This year, first-quarter passenger traffic at the airport was 74.2% ahead of the same period a year earlier.

New entrants to the market, including Bally’s and Century Casinos, could allocate capital to sprucing up familiar venues in Reno-Tahoe. That could potentially lure more visitors to the region in the process.

Caesars Entertainment is the largest operator in the market, with three Reno casinos and Harrah’s and Harveys in Lake Tahoe.