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Nevada gaming win sets record high in May

Nevada casinos raked in an all-time record $1.23 billion from gamblers across the state in May, the first month when some casinos could resume operating at full capacity, the Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.

It was also the third consecutive month Nevada casinos surpassed $1 billion in gaming win. That hadn’t happened since December 2019 through February 2020, right before casinos shut down for 2½ months because of the pandemic.

May broke a state record that stood for 14 years: $1.17 billion in total monthly gaming win set in October 2007, Control Board administrative division senior analyst Michael Lawton said Wednesday. Clark County casinos comprised the lion’s share of the new record statewide total with their own highest-ever monthly gaming win at $1.05 billion.

Every one of the 20 markets monitored by the Control Board was up compared with results from May 2019, “which can be attributed to strong demand, healthy consumers and leisure travel beginning to rebound,” Lawton said in an email.

So far in 2021, gaming win remains just 1.3 percent down from gaming win during the same period in 2019. The state is up 2.4 percent with a total of $10.04 billion since casinos reopened in June, the report said. Clark County (minus-2.2 percent) and the Strip (minus-15.2 percent) are the only two markets that remain down since reopening. Nevada casinos excluding the Strip were up 23.9 percent from reopening through May, Lawton said.

In April, the state’s casinos won $1.039 billion from gamblers with $865.5 million of that in Clark County, $483.4 million on the Strip and a record $76.2 million in downtown Las Vegas. And in March, statewide win was $1.067 billion, Clark County was at $893.2 million, the Strip was $501.5 million and downtown Las Vegas was $71 million.

Gaming win in Nevada “showed a nice acceleration” from April to May, according to Joseph Greff, a gaming analyst with New York-based J.P. Morgan.

Slots and baccarat in May carried Strip casinos to $655.5 million in gaming win — a 26.7 percent increase over May 2019. Slots brought in a record $358.3 million from Strip gamblers in May.

Baccarat players on the Strip wagered $477.3 million during the month, down 31.9 percent from May 2019. But the casinos took about 22.2 percent of May wagers to earn $105.9 million in gaming win — about a third of the $297.2 million casinos won at table games.

Baccarat win on the Strip was up about 97 percent compared with May 2019. The casinos benefited from some poor gambling luck, Greff wrote in a Wednesday note. Strip casinos typically win somewhere near 13 to 14 percent of baccarat wagers, he said, and they won just 7.7 percent of wagers in May 2019.

Downtown Las Vegas casinos brought in $75.2 million to fall just short of April’s record. Downtown slots accounted for $49.3 million in gaming win, and table games made up $23.2 million.

“We think headline May figures were strong despite high hold and aid from NV slot accounting, which lends to a sooner and more robust leisure/weekend-driven recovery which we saw last month,” said Barry Jonas, a gaming analyst with Truist Securities.

“We think the summer months will see significant pent-up demand before the full-scale return of conventions,” he wrote in a Wednesday note. “Despite this, we continue to favor the more resilient regional operators who also benefit from less group/convention exposure.”

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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