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November 26, 2020

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Nevada casino winnings report charts slow return of gamblers

Excalibur Reopens

Steve Marcus

Gamblers place bets on roulette during the reopening of Excalibur Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 | 7:07 p.m.

Casinos reported sluggish results in winnings last month, resulting from a slow return of business following more than two months of coronavirus closures, Nevada regulators said Wednesday.

House winnings, a key index of state fiscal health, were down almost 26.2% in July, tallying $757 million in the monthly report compared with more than $1 billion in the same month a year ago, the state Gaming Control Board said.

Board analyst Michael Lawton cited challenges that casinos continue to face, particularly on the Las Vegas Strip, due to limited air travel, lack of mid-week convention business and an absence of arena events and entertainment options.

Results from the Strip accounted for a little more than 79% of the overall decline, Lawton said.

Casino winnings on the Strip were down 39.2% in July compared with a year ago, and downtown Las Vegas figures were down 20.6%. North and South Lake Tahoe both reported casino winnings down at least one-third from a year ago.

Still, the so-called “gaming win” figure statewide improved markedly last month, compared with almost $567 million in June and near-zero in April and May.

“July 2020 was up 35.5% compared to June 2020 which exceeded our expectations,” Lawton said.

Casinos began reopening June 4 following widespread business closures imposed in mid-March by Gov. Steve Sisolak to prevent people from gathering and spreading COVID-19.

Lawton noted that three more Las Vegas resorts resumed operations in July, and eight remained shuttered.

Sports bettors wagered nearly $113 million on mobile apps, and casinos won $5.8 million, Lawton said.

The state collected $32.3 million in taxes based on the July revenues, down 56.3% from a year ago.

Casino taxes are second to sales taxes as a percentage of Nevada’s annual budget. The state has no personal income tax.