Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak closed all of Nevada’s casinos on March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Following a shutdown that dragged on for three and a half months, they were permitted to reopen on June 4. The road to recovery has been tougher than expected over the past three months.
Why Have Las Vegas Casino Winnings Been Sluggish?
Nevada regulators track casino winnings across the state. By their own admission, casinos are still struggling with sluggish results. One of the key business indicators for the casino industry is house winnings. Recently, they posted rather disappointing results for July. This following June’s restart.
The total house winnings for the state declined 26.2 percent in the month of July. The total amount reached $757 million. The same month last year topped more than $1 billion. These figures were released by the state Gaming Control Board.
Michael Lawton is an industry analysist for the board. He noted all the various challenges casinos still face. This is especially true in Las Vegas as a huge tourist attraction. The Las Vegas Strip has been hit especially hard. Limited air travel, the lack of mid-week convention traffic and shuttered entertainment venues have taken their toll.
Business lost on the Strip accounted for close to 80 percent of the total decline
Casino winnings from venues located on the Strip was down 39.2 percent in July. Casino winnings attributed to downtown casinos declined 20.6 percent that same month. Casinos in the North and South Lake Tahoe region approached a 33 percent decline in winnings against last July.
Overall, there were some encouraging signs in July. After posting zero winnings during the shutdown, June came in at $567 million in winnings. July’s figures climbed 35.5 percent higher. That was actually higher than previous expectations according to Lawton.
Heading into the month of August, eight casino operations have yet to reopen. The final figures for that month will be released in the coming weeks.
Another encouraging sign is the emerging mobile betting industry. Through the use of mobile apps, Nevada casinos won $5.8 million. The total online sports betting handle for July reached $113 million.
Based on overall July revenue, the state took in $32.3 million in taxes. This figure is down 56.3 percent as compared to July’s figures last year. Given that Nevada does not have a personal income tax, the decline is substantial. Casino taxes are second to sales tax as a percent of Nevada’s annual budget.
September’s outlook is far more positive. The start of the NFL season brings the Raiders to town. While the seats at brand new Allegiant Stadium will remain empty, overall NFL betting should provide a boost.
Certain entertainment venues are looking to open in a limited fashion this month. Restrictions due to coronavirus protocols remain in place. However, there is a steady push towards some sense of normal operations. Social distancing, temperature checks and masks are still part of that norm. Attendance at all entertainment venues will still be limited.