Casinos in Nevada reported $11.9 billion in revenues in 2018, the third-largest total in the state's history that inches the state closer to a revenue mark not seen since before the Great Recession.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board on Thursday released data showing a 3 percent revenue increase compared with 2017. Slot machines were responsible for almost 65 percent of the total winnings.
The casinos reported more than $1 billion in monthly revenue five times in 2018. They closed the year bringing in $999.7 million in December, up 4.1 percent from the same month a year ago.
The data show all major markets monitored by the board saw revenue increases last year, a first since 2004.
It has taken Nevada casinos more than a decade to approach the $12 billion mark, from which they strayed when the global economy collapsed in 2007. They reported $12.6 billion in revenue in 2006 and $12.8 billion in 2007.
The revenues have been climbing since 2010, with casinos registering increases in eight of the past nine years. In 2017, they took in $11.6 billion.
"If we keep growing, we are going to start getting really close to the peak," said Michael Lawton, senior analyst with the control board. "We are only 7.2 percent below the peak right now. That's the closest we've been since the recession."
Las Vegas Strip casinos raked in about $6.6 billion, up 2 percent from 2017. That was the smallest percentage increase of all the markets.
Downtown Las Vegas casino winnings increased 3 percent to about $650 million, while casinos in Reno took in about $637 million, up 4.1 percent compared with 2017. Casinos in Wendover saw the largest percentage change, with a 6.5 percent hike that brought their revenue to about $201 million.
Casinos statewide set all-time records for sports betting action last year. People gambled $5 billion at the sports books, with the casinos taking in $301 million.
Figures also released Thursday by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority showed slightly fewer people visited the city last year compared with 2017. A report from the agency responsible for promoting the destination showed 42.12 million people traveled to Sin City, down 0.2 percent.
At the same time, the destination's airport reported 2018 was its busiest year on record. McCarran International Airport served 49.7 million passengers, up 2.2 percent over the year.
Lawton said gambling regulators are optimistic going into 2019 because of positive national and state economic indicators as well as the end of renovations of hundreds of hotel room rooms in Las Vegas that previously affected visitation figures.
"I think modest growth seems attainable," he said.