February gambling win in Nevada tops $1 billion – but steep drop-off likely
CARSON CITY, Nev. — In what’s sure to be an ironic harbinger of things to come, the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Thursday published casino winnings for the month of February, showing that gambling win topped $1 billion for the third consecutive month.
Traditionally, the state gaming board releases monthly numbers a few weeks into the following month.
This means March casino win totals — which are sure to tumble in a likely record-setting month due to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s March 17 mandate that casino shut down for 30 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic — won’t be known until sometime in April.
According to previous reports, of the roughly 616,000 casino employees out of work right now across America, Nevada makes up roughly one-third — roughly 206,000 casino employees.
Further, according to the American Gaming Association, if all U.S. casinos were to remain closed for eight weeks, the U.S. economy will lose $43.5 billion in economic activity. But, it remains to be see what impacts closures will have in March.
Looking back at February, however, casinos posted a 3.1 percent increase compared to the same month in 2019. And the reason was almost entirely because of strong performance in the smaller, Northern Nevada markets.
Gaming Control Board analyst Mike Lawton said those markets enjoyed an extra weekend day thanks to the Feb. 29 Leap Day
So did Southern Nevada casinos, but there, the win was blunted by the fact that Chinese New Year was in January this year, not February as it was a year ago. That difference left Clark County with an increase of just a half percent and the Strip with just three-quarters of a percent.
By comparison, Washoe County was up 27 percent, South Shore Lake Tahoe was up 21.3 percent, Elko was up 16.2 percent and Carson Valley area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County as well as the capital, was up 17.1 percent. Finally, North Shore was up 48.1 percent.
Lawton said altogether, those areas accounted for 80 percent of the $30.8 million increase in total win for the month.
Sports books did well, increasing total in by 6.3 percent or $2.2 million to $38.1 million.
Statewide, casinos raked in $1.04 billion. Slot win increased 6.6 percent or $39.9 million to $648.5 million. But Game and Table win was down 2.3 percent to $394.1 million, a decrease of $9.1 million.
Lawton said the volume of play was “surprisingly good” but the percentage of wagers the casinos kept, a term known as “hold,” fell a percent and a half to 11.4.
Carson Valley reported total win of $8.8 million, a $1.3 million increase. All of the increase was from slot play, which increased 17.6 percent. That ends three consecutive decreases for the area.
South Shore casinos at Stateline reported $17.7 million total win — a $3.1 million increase and the third consecutive increase for the area.
Washoe County was up $16.4 million to $77.1 million, fully half of the statewide increase for the month. It was an easy comparison since Washoe was down 6.5 percent a year ago.
NNBW Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.