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Nevada gaming win tops $1B in February, but visitation flat

Updated March 28, 2018 - 5:19 pm

Statewide gaming win cracked the $1 billion mark for the second straight month in February as Nevada casinos capitalized on a shift in the dates of Chinese New Year in 2018.

But February visitation was flat for the month, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday reported statewide gaming win of $1.018 billion, a 7.7 percent increase from February 2017. Clark County win was up 7.6 percent to $888.8 million while the Strip showed an 11.4 percent increase to $603.5 million. Downtown Las Vegas had a modest 2.8 percent increase to $53.2 million.

It was 37th time the state has recorded more than $1 billion in monthly win, a level first achieved in March 2005. The highest monthly win ever came in October 2007 when the state recorded $1.165 billion.

February’s win total wasn’t even among the top 10 months ever recorded. But it was the first time since March and April 2008 in which the state recorded back-to-back billion-dollar months.

Big baccarat win

“This month’s increase was driven by baccarat win on the Strip which was up $79.7 million or 82.5 percent,” Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Tax and License Division of the Control Board, said in an email.

“As expected, due to the shift in the calendar for Chinese New Year, this February was much stronger than last February due to Chinese New Year falling in January of last year,” he said.

The double-digit percentage increase of win on the Strip ended a slide of four consecutive months of percentage declines.

Of the 20 markets tracked by the state, six of them — four in Southern Nevada — showed declines from February 2017.

Outlying Elko County and North Lake Tahoe were off from the previous year as were Mesquite (1.5 percent), outlying Clark County (1.1 percent), the Boulder Strip (1 percent) and North Las Vegas (0.4 percent).

Later in the day, the LVCVA reported the ninth straight month of year-over-year percentage declines in visitation.

The destination marketing organization said 3.13 million people visited Southern Nevada, a 0.6 percent decline from February 2017. But convention traffic was up for the fourth time in five months with 690,000 conventioneers arriving, an 11.2 percent increase over February 2017.

The LVCVA attributed some of the increase to a shift in two annual convention dates. The International Market Center with 50,000 attendees and the International Surface Event trade show with 25,000 normally meet in January, but this year, came in February.

Midweek occupancy rates fell 1 percentage point to 81.2 percent for the month, but weekend occupancy was up 0.9 points to 93.9 percent, a number that would have ranked it ninth among the 12 months last year.

Reduction in room inventory

LVCVA analysts continue to point to a temporary 0.8 percent reduction in room inventory as partially responsible for the falloff in visitation. That reduction, they say, has resulted from more than 1,000 rooms being closed for renovation at the Monte Carlo and Palms properties.

But some critics are saying that increasing resort fees and charges to park at many Strip resorts have discouraged some visitation, turning some who come to Las Vegas multiple times a year into once-a-year guests.

The LVCVA said the implementation of updated accounting rules at some resorts have altered average-daily-room-rate and revenue-per-available-room calculations. The agency said the calculation is an accounting procedure followed by some but not all resorts so the LVCVA didn’t list those statistics. Officials said restated figures for affected months would be released later in the year.

In January, the LVCVA reported a record average daily room rate of $163.90. The agency’s calculations of average daily room rates do not include resort fees that range from $15 to $45 a night or parking charges that range from $12 to $24 a day.

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