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December Brings Sharp Revenue Decline for Las Vegas Casino

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for Nevada casino revenues, and the end of last year was no exception, with sportsbooks being the only area to post year-on-year growth in December.

Las Vegas Strip gaming revenue dropped by more than one-half

Figures released this week by the Nevada Gaming Control Board reveal that the state’s casinos brought in combined gaming revenue of $683.7 million in December, down 35.3% from the same month in 2019 and $87.5 million less than November 2020. In fact, it was the lowest monthly total for the state since August 1997.

The poor figures are primarily a result of Governor Steve Sisolak’s decision in November to halve the casino’s restricted capacity to just 25% of normal. The effect of this was most apparent on the famous Las Vegas Strip, where gaming revenue dropped by more than one-half to $292 million, while in Downtown Vegas, it was down 28% to $45.5 million.

Slots revenues from across the state were down by more than a third in December to $459 million, while revenue from table, counter, and card games fell 37% to $224.7 million. There wasn’t a single game in the category that did not suffer double-digit falls; baccarat was down 71%, blackjack 54.9%, craps 48.5%, and roulette 42.4%.

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Nevada’s sportsbooks did better, with December revenues up 11.7% year-on-year to $40.6 million. However, this was still a major fall from November’s $61.8 million. Most of the money, $25.9 million, came from football, with basketball bringing in $12.7 million and parlay cards $2.6 million.

In total, in 2020, Nevada’s gaming revenue was $7.87 billion, which was more than a third below 2019’s $12 billion and the lowest annual total since 1997. The Vegas Strip reported revenue of $3.73 billion, its lowest since 1999.

Last spring, Nevada’s casinos were closed for 78 days due to the pandemic, and they have been running at reduced capacity ever since. At present, the restrictions are set to remain in place until at least February 15.

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