Gaming revenue up slightly in wake of October shooting


Gamblers play craps on the casino floor of the Cromwell on the Las Vegas Strip, Monday, April 21, 2014.

In the first statewide numbers released since the Oct. 1 shooting, gaming revenue rose almost everywhere in Nevada except on the Las Vegas Strip, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

In October, gaming revenue on the Strip dropped by 6.05 percent compared to October 2016. The only other areas where revenue dropped were North Lake Tahoe, down 3.55 percent, and Elko County (excluding Wendover), where revenue was off 4.07 percent.

Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst with the Tax and License Division of the board, was reluctant to directly attribute October’s numbers to the shooting, saying the Strip would have had a hard time beating last year’s numbers in any case.

“I’m not really going to speak to that,” he said. “We were facing a tough comparison and had a few days where things were off.”

Lawton said gaming revenues in October 2016 were especially good; they grew by 11.1 percent statewide and by 14 percent on the Strip.

“Also, we were down one weekend day,” he said. “So going into the month, it was a tough comparison and I think for the statewide numbers, we were pleasantly surprised that we came up slightly flat on the state side.”

Still, Lawton couldn’t help but acknowledge that the shooting did impact the numbers.

“As for the Strip, you know, I guess you could look and say it could have been worse, considering what happened during the first week of October.”

Lawton said prior to collecting October’s revenue statistics, he was concerned the shooting’s impact on statewide revenue numbers would be worse.

“All things considered, I think coming in, we probably assumed we were going to be down from what we were hearing,” he said.

Overall, he said, the state was helped by the strength of other gaming markets in Southern Nevada and the calendar.

“Ground was made up in other submarkets in Clark County,” he said. “And a lot of that had to do with a fortunate weekend where (revenue) from one Friday and Saturday of September rolled into October. So we had some slot collection timing benefits that helped make up ground from the Strip that suffered with a decrease.”

All nonrestricted gaming companies report revenue numbers at the same time, but they don’t all count the money at the same time. If casinos in different areas finish counting their money on different days, it can increase revenue numbers in one submarket while decreasing them in another.

As a result of help from the calendar, Nevada took in $988,744,450 in October, and gaming revenue grew by 0.27 percent compared to October 2016, when the gaming win was $986,075,384.

Sports betting was a particularly bright spot, Lawton said, as more money was bet on the World Series than ever before.

“We beat the previous record set last month. $566.4 million was wagered during month of October, a new all-time record, which beat the $558.2 million from last month,” he said. “What’s interesting is this month, baseball saw $101.5 million bet, the largest number ever for October. So we can safely assume it was the most bet ever on a World Series. It beat last year’s record of $66.4 million when the Cubs and Indians played. This year pretty much shattered that.”

Outside the Strip, revenues were up in Southern Nevada as well in October compared to October 2016. Downtown Las Vegas revenues rose 9.96 percent, and in North Las Vegas they grew by 11.59 percent.

In the same comparison, revenues in Laughlin were up 2.37 percent and in Mesquite and the Boulder strip, they grew by 0.54 percent and 17.10 percent, respectively.

In Reno — again for October 2017 compared to October 2016 — revenue grew 3.27 percent. For the same period, revenue in Sparks was up 0.60 percent. In the rest of Washoe County, revenue was up 10.71 percent.

In the same monthly comparison, South Lake Tahoe, revenue grew 16.19 percent. Revenue increased 0.13 percent for the Carson Valley area, which includes Carson City, Gardnerville, Minden and all other areas of Douglas County except South Lake Tahoe.

As a result of October’s gaming revenue, the state collected $59,688,436 in gaming fees in November compared to $59,609,540 in November 2016, a 0.13 percent or $78,896 increase.

Each month the board releases a report listing the previous month’s revenues from casinos with 15 or more slot and/or video poker machines and possibly table games. The report covers geographic regions in Nevada, not individual properties or companies.

October is in the fourth quarter, and publicly held gaming companies won’t release earnings results for that month until next year. However, MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay, and Penn National Gaming, which owns the Tropicana, both have acknowledged the shooting will have an impact on their revenue.

Executives from other companies, such as Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, have said they are seeing little if any impact on business as a result of the shooting.

You can view all the revenue numbers and statistics the Gaming Control Board collects by clicking here.