Las Vegas casino takings down by 40%

Jon Pill
Posted on: October 30, 2020 03:11 PDT

The Nevada Gaming Control Board figures for September are out. Showing that Nevada casinos' taxable winnings are down 22.38% from the same period last year.

That is roughly the same drop for the last few months (22-26%) since Nevada tried to re-open. The notable exception here is June, which had far worse results (45% drop).

It was partway through June that the reopening began. So the casinos were only operating for part of the month.

The numbers for September are ugliest for the big name casinos on the Strip. Strip casinos were down 39.14% on their winnings as compared to September 2019.

Stripping the Strip

The brutality of that lost income can be seen behind many recent headlines.

We have seen the granular fine-tuning of business practices. For example, the midweek closure of the poker room at the Encore and the entirety of Planet Hollywood (owned by Wynn and Caesar's respectively). In both cases, these serve to concentrate the reduced business under the roof of one property to save money.

But there are also the big, landscape-shifting changes that are underway.

The Venetian, the Palazzo, and the Sands Conference center up for sale. The cost of running casinos in a pandemic is more likely to blame than Sheldon Adelson's health in the reasons for sale.

With the Venetian sold one of the Strip's biggest poker rooms will be under new management. And who knows what the knock-on effects of that could be.

Gamble local, save lives

Much of the industry's downsizing is due to reduced tourism from overseas and over state lines. But the reasons for the Strip taking so much of a harder beating than the rest of the state show up elsewhere in the data.

In Clark County, most areas show minus signs or single-digit growth. Except for Mesquite (up 11.45%), way out in the corner of the county, right on the state border with Texas.

In fact, running down the list of areas, the further from Las Vegas the better casinos seem to be doing compared to last year. Some have even seen growth.

This seems to suggest that the Strip is losing its Nevada natives to their local joints. Where before the pandemic they might have risked the drive into Vegas proper. Now they seem satisfied with the less crowded offerings of South Lake Tahoe (up 36.32%) or Washoe County (up 3.39%), the home of Reno.

This reflects the relative increase in the gambling market in other states too and suggests that gamblers are gonna gamble local rather than gamble on their health.

Featured image source: Flickr