The State Control Gaming Board of Nevada, the home of Las Vegas, announced on Wednesday that revenues are down almost 40% compared to the same month last year. The state is home to a combined total of 440 licensed casinos who raked in combined winnings of $618 million in March this year, having won a little over $1 billion in March 2019.
The world famous Las Vegas strip is by far the dominant force in Nevada’s casino market and was naturally hit hard by the slump, with their $300 million in takings seeing them 46% down compared to March last year. Las Vegas downtown saw a substantially smaller crash, down “just” 26% year over year. The hardest hit in the state was taken in Northern Nevada’s Reno, who found themselves a whopping 55% down on the same month last year. Elsewhere in the north of the state, the South Lake Tahoe market saw a 43% crash.
The drop isn’t just bad news for casino owners and their employees, taxes collected by the state from casinos were down 54% on March last year. In a state that’s almost entirely propped up by its casinos, and the hospitality industry built around them, the crash will very likely have a major impact on public services, including schools and state programmes.
News of these damagingly low figures isn’t easy to take for those in the state of Nevada, but they weren’t exactly unexpected either. On March 18th, the day after St. Patrick's Day, all of the state’s 440 casinos had to close their doors as Gov Steve Sisolak ordered all ‘non-essential’ businesses to shut down in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. St. Patrick’s Day is normally a day of extra-special jubilation in a city that already parties around the clock, 365 days of the year. However, St. Paddy’s Day 2020 in Las Vegas was an unrecognisable scene, dampened by the news of an imminent shutdown in the wake of a global pandemic.
The figures in March “could have been a lot worse” according to Las Vegas based gaming industry analyst, Brendan Bussmann, but warned the worst is yet to come when April’s figures are released. While casinos were open for just 17 days in March, their doors remained closed for the entirety of April, meaning the numbers for this month will make for even worse reading.
If there is good news to come for Nevada’s casinos, it’s out in the distance rather on the near horizon, as the state government looks to keep the casinos closed for the entire month of May. News of the May closures arrived on Thursday, as Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans for Nevada’s gradual reopening, which will see the state attempt to open up in phases. Each phase is expected to last between 2 and 3 weeks, with phase 1 not scheduled to commence until May 15th. Casinos, bars and hotels are not included in the list of businesses permitted to reopen in phase 1 of the plan, meaning they will remain closed for the entirety of May, and perhaps even into the first or second week of June.
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