People cross the Las Vegas Strip outside Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood Resort. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
State gaming win in February was flat as a Kansas prairie but still topped the $1 billion mark, the state Gaming Control Board reported Thursday.
The board reported statewide win by casinos was down 0.62 percent to $1.012 billion for the month. In Clark County, win was up 0.44 percent to $892.7 million, but Strip win was down 1.95 percent to $591.7 million. Downtown Las Vegas had the best performance by percentage, up 9 percent to $58 million.
“All things considered, whenever we record a billion dollars in gaming win we are very pleased, although for this month, that still resulted in a very small decrease statewide,” said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Control Board’s administration division.
Lawton believes state win would have exceeded February 2018 numbers had it not been for severe winter weather in the Lake Tahoe region. The north Lake Tahoe region of Washoe County reported a win decline of 24.7 percent for the month, and the south Lake Tahoe region was off 26.6 percent.
On Presidents Day weekend, normally a strong tourism period for the Lake Tahoe region, the California Highway Patrol was urging motorists to stop driving on U.S. Highway 50, a key route.
Lawton also said lower baccarat win was the big culprit in the lower numbers with players being luckier.
“Baccarat was off 25.5 percent or $45.2 million due to volumes being down 18 percent on a hold of 12.77 percent vs. 14.05 percent last year,” Lawton said. “Baccarat has now decreased in seven of the last eight months; however this is more the result of poor hold as volumes are down just 1 percent over the same time period.”
The state’s more than 135,000 slot machines produced $608.3 million in win for casinos while table games brought in $403.2 million, a decline of 2.2 percent from February 2018. It was the sixth-straight month of increased slot win.
Sportsbooks won $35.8 million — 235 percent better than a year ago — on record handle of $458.6 million. Sportsbooks had higher win for the Super Bowl this year than last, and basketball win was up $8.1 million.
David Schwartz, associate vice provost of faculty affairs at UNLV and a gaming industry expert, tweeted Thursday that performance by Nevada sportsbooks “seems to vindicate those who said the broader expansion of sports betting (nationwide) would not hurt Nevada’s sportsbooks.”
The three-month gaming revenue trend, generally a more telling gauge of win activity because it eliminates volatile swings resulting from calendar comparisons, showed win equally flat in the state, up 0.08 percent for December, January and February.
In Clark County, the three-month trend was up 0.52 percent. Downtown Las Vegas climbed 8.17 percent, but the Strip was down 2.29 percent for the period.
Later Thursday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported visitor volume in February was up 1.9 percent over 2018 to 3.19 million people. After a 2.1 percent increase started the year in January, Las Vegas is on pace to beat the 2018 volume total of 42.1 million.
Convention attendance was up 8.5 percent to 748,600 for the month, thanks in part to the return of the National Association of Home Builders, 60,000 attendees, and the Kitchen & Bath Show, 33,000 attendees, offsetting the calendar movement of the World Market Center winter show and the Surfaces show from February 2018 to January.
Other key indicators showing gains in February were citywide occupancy, up 1.7 percentage points to 87 percent, the average daily room rate up 8.7 percent to $130.06 a night, and room nights occupied up 3 percent to 3.61 million.
Richard N. Velotta at or. Follow on Twitter.
February tourism indicators
February 2019 February 2018 Change
Visitor volume 3.19 million 3.13 million +1.9%
Citywide occupancy 87% 85.3% +1.7 points
Room nights occupied 3.607 million 3.501 million +3%
Convention attendance 748,600 690,000 +8.5%
Average daily room rate $130.06 $119.65 +8.7%
Air passengers 3.633 million 3.569 million +1.8%
Average daily highway
auto traffic 103,828 106,030 -2.1%
gaming revenue $892.7 million $888.8 million +0.4%