Nevada gaming revenue down 3.1% in November but sportsbooks have a record month

Howard Stutz has over 30 years of experience reporting on the gaming industry.

2019 has been a streaky year for Nevada’s casino industry.

But the one constant is sports betting, which saw a single-month record wagering total during November.

The Gaming Control Board said Friday that statewide gaming revenue fell for the second straight month. Previously, Nevada casinos recorded five straight monthly declines to begin 2019, which were followed by four straight monthly increases.

Statewide, casinos collected $937.4 million from gamblers in November, a decline of almost 3.1% compared to November 2018.  Most of the state’s major reporting markets had a down month.

The Las Vegas Strip, which accounts for more than half of the state’s overall total, saw revenues fall 3.1% to $517.9 million. Downtown Las Vegas was off 6% to $52.1 million, Reno was down 1.3% to $50.3 million, and South Lake Tahoe declined 19% to $13.8 million.

Only two reporting areas in Southern Nevada – Mesquite and the balance of Clark County – had monthly gaming revenue increases in November. Sparks was the only market in Northern Nevada’ Washoe County, with an increase.

The bright spot for the state came from sports betting. Despite competition in new markets, gamblers wagered $614.1 million football, basketball and other games during November, an increase of 5.5%. The figure easily eclipsed the previous all-time monthly record of $596.7 million, that was set in March. For the first 11 months of 2019, Nevada’s sportsbooks have collected $4.7 billion in wagers, which up 6.7% compared to the first 11 months of 2018.

Revenues from sports betting $31 million in November, up 14.3%. Through year’s first 11 months, total sports betting revenue sits at $292.8 million, up 14.2%.

While sports betting is on an upswing, high-end baccarat play has been fading.

Baccarat revenues, primarily on the Las Vegas Strip, were down 22.7% in November to $77.5 million. Wagering was off 30.8% to $557 million.

“Baccarat volumes have only increased twice this calendar year and are currently down 14.9% through November,” said Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton.

Overall, table game revenue declined 3.5% during the month while slot machine revenues declined 2.9%. Excluding baccarat, however, Lawton said statewide gaming revenue totals would have been down just under 1%.

SunTrust Bank gaming analyst Barry Jonas told investors the results were somewhat expected “given the commentary on softness in far east play” companies alluded to during third quarter earnings announcements.

The other good news for the state was the wagering volume on slot machines. During November, betting was up 1.3% and the volume is up 2.2% for the calendar year. Lawton said wagering on the game “continues to gradually grow as it has only decreased twice in the past 24 months.”

For the first 11 months of the year, overall Nevada gaming revenues are up 0.5% compared to a year ago. The Strip is down 0.4%, downtown Las Vegas is up 5.2%, Reno is down 1.5% and South Lake Tahoe is down 3.3%.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon said December was shaping up as a better month.

Also Friday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority released the November tourism numbers for Southern Nevada, which showed visitor volume up 0.9% to nearly 3.51 million tourists. Convention attendance was down 1.6% but citywide occupancy, average daily room rate, and revenue per available room (RevPar) all grew during November.

“Looking into 2020, operators remain optimistic around the non-VIP side of the business, with strong convention schedules already in the books and additional non-supply capacity coming online later in the year,” Beynon told investors, citing the ConAgg tradeshow, the NFL Draft and the opening of the $2 million Allegiant Stadium.

Occupancy in Las Vegas was 88.2%, the average daily room rate was $134.95, up 5.2%, and RevPar was up 5.4% to $119.03.