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US – Nevada GGR down at 1997 levels due to 78-day COVID closure

By - 29 January 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has seen Nevada’s 2020 gaming revenue plunge to a low not seen since 1997 when casinos recorded just above $7.8bn in gaming revenue.

Nevada’s 78-day COVID closure from March 18 to June 4 and the restrictions in place since reopening saw every Nevada gaming market record year-on year falls, led by the Las 43.3 per cent plummet in GGR on the Las Vegas Strip.

GGR for the year came in at $7.87bn, according to data released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, representing a fall of 34.6 per cent from 2019’s figures.
December’s gaming win was down 35.3 per cent year-on-year to $683.73m although it also fell sequentially by 11.3 per cent since November.
The tourist casinos of the Strip were naturally hit by the lack of travel and tourism, generating $3.73bn. Downtown fell by 32.2 year-on-year to $464.2m.
Casinos in Washoe County, including Reno, saw GGR dip by 21.1 per cent to $676m in 2020, marking the market’s lowest revenue since 1986. Gaming venues in South Lake Tahoe saw GGR drop by 19.3 per cent to $182.1m.

Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analysts Michael Lawton described December as Nevada’s worst full month of gaming revenues since August 1997 and the worst full month for the Strip since December 1993.

“This 78-day closure had a significant impact on gaming win amounts. December, although very weak in terms of gaming win, unfortunately was not a huge surprise Without the NFR, [National Finals Rodeo, which was held instead in Arlington, Texas] limited New Year’s Eve, along with capacity limitations in addition to the COVID-19 surge, December, although very weak in terms of gaming win, unfortunately, was not a huge surprise,” Mr. Lawton said.

Only 19m tourists visited Las Vegas in 2020, a fall of 55.2 per cent from the 42.5m went in 2019.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller cited vaccine distribution, responsible reopening, and consumer confidence as reasons for optimism in the coming year.

“There’s huge pent-up demand for gaming—and I’m upbeat about the second half of the year in particular. As vaccines roll out, people will be excited to travel, hungry for entertainment, and desperate to get out and have fun again. That’s an environment where gaming will thrive.”

AGA research shows one-in-three American adults plan to visit a casino in 2021—the highest rate since the AGA began tracking last March. Eighty percent of future casino visitors agree the industry has done a good job at safely reopening.

Mr. Miller emphasised that the AGA’s singular agenda in 2021 is accelerating the gaming industry’s recovery, highlighting four areas of focus: Securing additional COVID-19 economic relief for the industry through temporary liability protections, investment in travel and tourism, supportive tax policy, and additional tribal relief. Developing gaming champions on Capitol Hill and in the Biden administration. Blocking harmful policies and advancing specific reforms to enhance industry competitiveness. Using proprietary research and strategic communication efforts to ensure the gaming industry is heard.

“We come into 2021 with a strong foundation, a clear focus, record levels of support among Americans, and a loyal customer base that wants the excitement only gaming can deliver,” concluded Mr. Miller.

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