Casinos Post Massive Losses in March After Coronavirus Closures
Since the Silver State’s casino industry abruptly shut down on March 17, when ongoing coronavirus outbreak prompted Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) to issue an executive order closing all nonessential businesses, casinos post massive losses since March.
And with all 440 licensed casinos in the state still shuttered today, the full extent of damage to Nevada’s vital gaming industry can now be assessed.
Per the latest figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), the state’s casinos combined to generate win revenue of $618.1 million in March. Compared to the same month last year, when Nevada casinos hauled in just over $1 billion in revenue, the win rate represents a significant 39.6 percent downswing.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this year’s March win figure is the state’s lowest since February of 1998.
And the losses aren’t limited to corporate casino operators either. The state collected just $37.1 million in gaming taxes in March, down 53.6 percent year-on-year to put a dent in Nevada’s government coffers.
Broken down by region, the market which suffered most in March was North Lake Tahoe, as the ski resort destination posted a win of just $725,545 for a 65.2 percent drop off. From there, the city’s iconic Las Vegas Strip fell 45.7 percent to $300 million in win, while Clark County as a whole dropped by 38.1 percent to $546.5 million.
And in the Downtown district on Fremont Street, the city’s original casino hotspot saw its win rate cut by 25.9 percent to $43.5 million.
Experts Say the Worst is Yet to Come for Nevada Casinos
While the March data is indeed distressing, gaming industry analysts like Brendan Bussmann – who works with the Las Vegas-based consulting firm Global Market Advisors, LLC – say April’s outlook will be far worse.
Speaking with the Review-Journal, Bussmann pointed out that casinos still had 17 operational days in March, as opposed to zero in April as the coronavirus closures have remained in place:
“Looking at the numbers that came out today, it shouldn’t necessarily surprise anyone that the numbers are down.
“It could have been a lot worse. I know that before things were shut down that it didn’t look like it was going to be necessarily a great month anyway because of the way the calendar fell.
But we’re still waiting for the next shoe to drop. I think the worst number is the one that happens in April when it’s virtually zero and then we begin the climb out.”
The NGCB won’t release April’s data until late May, but with every casino in the state locked down throughout the entire month, the win numbers will obviously be nonexistent.
And even if Sisolak eventually lifts the shutdown order and allows casinos to reopen, the precipitous drop in demand caused by coronavirus fears will likely lead to further losses.
Revenue figures out of the Asian casino hub Macau are similarly catastrophic, with casinos posting a combined win of only $95 million – plummeting by 96.8 percent in the process. All 41 casinos in Macau were shuttered for 15 days in February, but even after reopening in March, local gamblers largely opted against returning.
Online / Mobile Sports Betting Apps the Only Silver Lining
Nevada’s sportsbook industry endured a similarly disastrous March, as their total “handle” – or the dollar amount of all bets placed – fell from $596.8 million last year to $141.1 million for a 76 percent decline.
After paying back winning wagers, the state’s bookmakers combined to win a paltry $1.5 million – a far cry from the $32.5 million won in March of 2019.
The cancellation of NCAA basketball’s “March Madness” championship tournament clearly provided the impetus for such a precipitous decline.
|Online / Mobile Bettors||$3.8mill|
Nonetheless, the online / mobile sportsbook market benefited from the lack of in-person betting in March. Of all the sports bets placed in Nevada for the month, 63 percent originated from online / mobile apps – the largest handle share yet for the state’s iGaming industry. Although land-based casinos post massive losses, this has been a bright sport for the online market, and sports bettors who are missing their fill of land-based gambling.
Online / mobile bettors placed $88.9 million in wagers during March, with operators collecting $3.8 million in win for a 4.3 percent hold rate.