Nevada Gaming Win Crashes 99.6% in April During Coronavirus Lockdown

  • State gaming win was $3.6m, the lowest ever recorded in Nevada
  • Sports betting and online poker were the only verticals that made money
  • Some markets had a greater than 100% decline because of delayed sports bet payouts and cancelled futures bets
Sign reading "We can't wait to welcome you back" on empty Las Vegas Strip with Treasure Island in background
With casinos closed during the coronavirus lockdown, Nevada gaming win plunged 99.6%, the steepest decline since records have been kept. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Unprecedented numbers

Nevada set a dubious record last month, recording its lowest gaming win total since the state began tracking such statistics in 1983. The state’s casinos produced just $3.6m in gaming win in April, a 99.6% plunge compared to the same month last year.

The financial devastation was not unexpected, as casinos have been closed since March 17 to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Governor Steve Sisolak announced this week that casinos could reopen while implementing strict health and safety measures on Thursday, June 4.

The state collected just $19,107 in gaming taxes for April.

According to figures released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Las Vegas Strip, the heart of Nevada’s gambling tourism, generated most of the state’s gaming win at $3.4m, a 99.3% drop from April 2019. Downtown’s win was slashed by the same percentage, down to $436,207. Casinos in the North Las Vegas region had gaming win of only $2,617, a 99.99% collapse.

The state collected just $19,107 in gaming taxes for April.

House was beaten in some markets

As nightmarish as those numbers are, it was even worse in other parts of the state. Some markets actually ended up paying out more money to customers than they took in.

North Lake Tahoe had the worst percentage, seeing its April win fall by 100.28% when compared to last year, a total of $3,681 in the red. Washoe County was the worst by absolute dollar amount, paying $78,633 to gamblers, a 100.12% drop.

Clark County, with $3.7m in gaming revenue, won more than the entire state did as a whole

The Boulder Strip, Laughlin, and Mesquite all suffered April gaming revenue decreases year-over-year of more than 100%.

Because so many markets lost money, Nevada achieved an unwanted first: Clark County, with $3.7m in gaming revenue, won more than the entire state did as a whole.

The main reason these markets found themselves upside-down was because some sportsbooks had to pay off wagers that were made before April as well as refund futures bets on sporting events that never took place. The biggest culprit: the NCAA basketball tournament, which was about to begin when the pandemic shutdown hit.

Online betting, poker contributed slightly

While sports betting contributed to the sinking of some Nevada markets into the red, it was one of the few things that buoyed others. Though online sports betting win was minimal because sports shut down during the pandemic, the Control Board did give sportsbooks the go-ahead to accept bets on sports very few people would ever think to pay attention to in the U.S.

Those desperate to bet on anything suddenly found interest in things like Russian soccer, table tennis, and the Belarus Extraleague Hockey Finals. eSports was one of the few betting outlets that has had any sort of consistency during the pandemic, even with some major events being cancelled or postponed.

Online poker was the only other source of gaming revenue for the state. Exact figures for mobile sports betting and online poker were redacted by the Control Board. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the number of operators who offer each is so small that it would be easy for an analyst to calculate how much specific licensees made. State regulations require that such information remains confidential.