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Despite December’s reputation, record gaming wins continue

The state’s casinos, paced by 215 licensees in Clark County, recorded the highest gaming win revenue in Nevada history in 2021, the Gaming Control Board reported Thursday.

The state’s largest casinos in December also won more than $1 billion from players for the 10th straight month, extending the record that had stood for 14 years and was broken in November.

Gaming win for calendar year 2021 was by far the best on record with $13.43 billion, surpassing the previous best of $12.85 billion in 2007. Clark County also beat the previous high total of $10.9 billion, also recorded in 2007, with $11.5 billion.

Michael Lawton, a Control Board research analyst who crunches the gaming numbers, said he believes the successful rollout of vaccines, which eliminated capacity restrictions on gaming floors, was partially responsible for the record numbers.

“Subsequently, strong demand for gaming-related activities by customers representing multiple market segments across all areas of the state, propelled Nevada to a record 10 consecutive months of total gaming win in excess of $1 billion,” Lawton said. “This demand was being driven by healthy consumer savings as the result of stimulus payments and the sustained rebound of leisure travel. Additionally, the return of special events and entertainment continued to boost gaming win to record levels,” he said.

Despite December’s reputation for being a slow tourism month, the state’s more than 400 nonrestricted casinos won $1.15 billion from players, including $650.8 million on the Strip — the most improved performance over last year among the 20 submarkets in the state monitored by the Control Board with a 122.9 percent uptick.

Clark County, the biggest contributor to the state win with $998.4 million, or 86.8 percent of the total, failed to hit the $1 billion level in December despite hosting the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas that month.

Tax revenue boost

Gaming win figures are important to the state because taxes are collected from the win totals. Nevada has a maximum 6.75 percent tax on gross gaming revenue. In tax collections through Wednesday, the state received $68.2 million from casinos for December, a 126.5 percent increase over the same period a year ago.

In a Thursday note to investors, Carlo Santarelli, a gaming analyst with the New York office of Deutsche Bank, said Strip win in December surpassed the December win in prepandemic 2019 by 10 percent, while locals casino win was up 5.2 percent. For the fourth quarter, Strip win was up 27.9 percent from 2019 and the locals win, 16.2 percent.

Joe Greff, a gaming analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan, said flight activity into Reid International Airport may have been responsible for numbers that weren’t as robust as they could have been.

“We recall that December is historically the strongest month in the fourth quarter, and typically up sequentially, but given the omicron impacts on visitation, flight activity into Las Vegas was down,” he said in a Thursday note to investors.

“We note that Las Vegas locals markets are generally less impacted by these effects relative to the Las Vegas area. The December calendar was favorable with nine weekend days in 2021 and eight days in both 2020 and 2019,” he said.

More records fell

Lawton provided other details about eye-popping 2021:

■ Eleven of the state’s submarkets covered by the report set all-time gaming win amounts in calendar year 2021. Washoe County, Reno, North Lake Tahoe, Sparks, South Shore Lake Tahoe, Laughlin and North Las Vegas did not.

■ Every market statewide recorded increases over calendar year 2020 and the only markets to record decreases compared with calendar year 2019 were North Las Vegas (-5.5 percent) and Laughlin (-5.1 percent). Compared with calendar year 2019, the largest increase was recorded by outlying Clark County (+26.9 percent) followed by Mesquite (+25.2 percent) and downtown Las Vegas (+23 percent). The Strip increased 7.4 percent over calendar year 2019.

■ The average growth rate for the past 10 years was 4.8 percent. Total win increased 84.8 percent the first six months and increased 60.4 percent the second six months.

■ Slot win of $9.2 billion increased 70.5 percent following last year’s 31.7 percent decline. Compared with calendar year 2019, slot win increased 16.4 percent. That total represents an all-time record for slot win beating the previous record set in calendar year 2007, which totaled $8.5 billion. Slot coin-in of $129.4 billion increased 64.6 percent after decreasing 31.6 percent last year. Compared with calendar year 2019, slot volume increased 12.5 percent.

■ Sports books won $445.1 million on $8.1 billion in wagers during calendar year 2021. Both of those amounts represent all-time records. The previous record for win and volume were set in calendar year 2018, $329.1 million and $5.3 billion, respectively.

■ Game and table win of $4.2 billion increased 70.7 percent, after decreasing 40 percent last year. Compared with 2019, games win increased 2.4 percent. Games drop — the amount wagered — of $31 billion increased 62.5 percent, after decreasing 35.5 percent last year. Compared with calendar year 2019, games drop increased 4.8 percent.

■ Roulette win of $428 million increased 103 percent vs. falling 43.5 percent last year. That represents an all-time record for roulette win on volumes of $2.1 billion, also an all-time record.

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Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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