In what appears to be a continued sign of recovery, Nevada casinos saw more than $1 billion in winnings in March, the highest number since 2013. According to the report by the Nevada Gaming Control Board released Tuesday, March gaming revenue was $1.07 billion, up 72% in the year-over-year comparison. It is also a significant jump from February’s $772 million.
Highest Gaming Win Since 2013
Last month was also the first time the Silver State’s gaming revenue crossed the $1 billion mark in a month since March 2020 when casinos were forced to shut amid the coronavirus pandemic.
March’s $1.07 billion figure is the highest monthly gaming number since February 2013, according to Gaming Control Board analyst Mike Lawton. It is also an increase of more than 4% from March 2019’s $1.02 billion.
To the sports betting, March Madness contributed swelling the monthly handle to $641 million for the Silver State.
Las Vegas Strip Draws the Lion’s Share
Las Vegas Strip casinos drew the lion’s share with $501 million in March, representing a 67% increase year-over-year and 44% growth month-over-month. Downtown casinos’ winning also saw a 63% year-over-year increase to $70 million.
Las Vegas Strip was not the only market to see considerable growth. Five other areas across the Silver State also witnessed all-time records for casino winnings. These include downtown Las Vegas, Elko County, the Boulder Highway area, the rest of Clark County, and the Carson City area.
The Second-Highest Slot Wins in Nevada History
Statewide slot winnings contributed to a substantial portion of Nevada’s revenue for March. With $772 million, it was also the second-highest slot win total in Nevada’s casino history since July 2008.
Baccarat play also drew considerable profits, with revenue up 59% year-over-year to a total of $68.2 million.
The state generated $96.7 million in taxes from March gaming revenue, representing a 161% increase year-over-year.
The NCCA president canceled March Madness in 2020 amid the pandemic-led health crisis for the first time since 1939. It returned with a bang last month, and basketball bets accounted for 78% of the total sports betting handle of Nevada. Of $641 total bets placed in Nevada sportsbooks, $501.5 million were wagered on basketball alone. The sportsbook revenue for the month was $39.3 million.
What Did Lead to the Phenomenal Recovery?
Lawton called March 2021 “the perfect storm for gaming activity in Nevada,” saying he didn’t believe anyone imagined that level of gaming win.
He said the increasing demand, coupled with relaxation in the capacity limit to 50% on March 15 and the March Madness combined to bring unprecedented numbers in years.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s decision to relax occupancy limits statewide to 50% from 35% in March also helped. He intends to leave the COVID-19 mitigation measures to local authorities on May 1. Sisolak has also set a June 1 target for lifting all statewide pandemic-led restrictions. Only face coverings will be the only mandated restriction to be followed.
The casinos in Clark County would be allowed to have 80% occupancy starting May, according to the Gaming Control Board.
Another reason that led to the phenomenal recovery in Nevada gaming revenue is the recent increase in travel numbers. On Monday, McCarran International Airport reported it handled nearly 2.6 million travelers in March, up from nearly 961,000 from February. It represents a 25% increase year-over-year, but down 41% from March 2019.