Heading into July when UFC 200 will reign supreme as the biggest MMA event ever in Las Vegas, there is a good chance gaming revenue will tick upwards following a disappointing May that saw a five percent drop from a year ago at that time. The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that the state’s casinos made $958 million in May after earning a higher-than-average result during the same month in 2015.
Analysts cautioned not to read too much into this May’s final numbers because last May was extremely successful thanks to the Fight of the Century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao and the Rock in Rio music festival that featured major performers such as No Doubt, Metallica, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars.
Last May resulted in gaming revenue of more than $1 billion, which was an increase of a little more than three percent from the previous year. The biggest drop this May came on money generated from Las Vegas Strip casinos, declining almost 12 percent from 2015. That drop can be at least be partially attributed to the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout that took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2.
This year, May did not include any comparable blockbuster events in Vegas, with most of the Strip’s entertainment focus coming in April with the opening of the new T-Mobile Arena and July with the UFC. The MMA organization’s International Fight Week will showcase three cards over three days in July along with the UFC Fan Expo that draws fans to the city from all over the world. T-Mobile Arena will host UFC 200 on July 9.
While the revenue on the Vegas Strip was down, other parts of Sin City did well in May. Downtown reported an increase of 13 percent to $50 million according to the Gaming Board while the Boulder Strip rose 26 percent to $78 million and North Las Vegas jumped even higher at 28 percent to $27 million.
However, the same could not be said for casinos in northern Nevada, with Reno’s decline falling in line with the state overall at five percent from nearly $53 million last year down to just over $50 million this year. In Lake Tahoe, there were even bigger drops than the Vegas Strip. North Lake Tahoe fell more than seven percent from $1.8 million down to $1.6 million while South Lake Tahoe dropped 15 percent – the biggest percentage decline in the state – from more than $16 million to less than $14 million.
One gambling category that suffered the most in Nevada was table games, which fell 18 percent in May from last year. Again, that can be tied to the overall drop in revenue on the Vegas Strip, where a lot of high-rollers enjoy games like blackjack, craps and roulette. With some promising months ahead starting with July, those numbers can be expected to rise. Last July, gaming revenue on the Vegas Strip fell two percent in July from 2014, and it would be surprising if there was not an increase this year.