Nevada Shows Huge Casino Gambling Losses in 2020

There are few parts of the world that depend on gambling revenue like the state of Nevada. Macau is probably the most dependent on its casinos, but Nevada tops the American states and likely is second only to Macau.

The coronavirus pandemic hit many industries when all non-essential businesses closed in March. The economy of nearly every country in the world suffered. Places like Nevada, in which big cities like Las Vegas and Reno focus heavily on gambling, took significant hits.

Most of Nevada’s casinos began to reopen in June, though most remain at limited capacity. Covid-19 remains an unpredictable disease, one that spreads whenever given the opportunity. This will keep casinos on their toes from now through the end of 2020 and likely into 2021, presumably until there is a vaccine or medical breakthrough that helps control Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Nevada’s gambling industry will continue to suffer. And numbers from the Nevada Gaming Commission and Nevada Gaming Control Board help to tell that story.

Quarterly Total Win

One of the key statistics used to measure the success of casino gaming from one quarter to another. The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s reports for each quarter break out win from table, counter, and card games from slot machine win.

Put together, though, they paint a picture, especially when looking at the first half of 2020 compared with the corresponding period in 2019. These numbers represent the entire state of Nevada.

  • January 1 – March 31, 2020: $2,698,414,141 (down 8.81% year-on-year)
  • April 1 – June 30, 2020: $576,261,912 (down 80.9% year-on-year)
  • January 1 – March 31, 2019: $2,959,244,000
  • April 1 – June 30, 2019: $3,018,947,326

When that is broken down by county, Clark County is the largest by far as it includes Las Vegas, and those numbers are as follows:

  • Jan 1 – Mar 31, 2020: $2,348,038,052 (down 7.96% year-on-year)
  • Apr 1 – Jun 30, 2020: $450,631,836 (down 82.9% year-on-year)
  • Jan 1 – Mar 31, 2019: $2,551,169,666
  • Apr 1 – Jun 30, 2019: $2,636,425,575

The first three months of 2020 didn’t suffer as much because most casinos remained open at least through half of March. It was the next three months that took the biggest hit, only showing any revenue at all because some casinos did reopen at a limited capacity in June.

Quarterly Total Taxable Gross Revenue

As for revenue from casino games, the Nevada Gaming Control Board tallies the totals from each county and separates it – again – by table, counter, and card games and then slot machines. For the sake of this analysis, they are combined for the total win.

  • January 1 – March 31, 2020: $2,738,224,075 (down 2.19% year-on-year)
  • April 1 – June 30, 2020: $629,194,123 (down 79.63% year-on-year)
  • January 1 – March 31, 2019: $2,799,627,481
  • April 1 – June 30, 2019: $3,089,559,991

And again, when separated by county, Clark County, including Las Vegas, shows the biggest changes:

  • January 1 – March 31, 2020: $2,383,112,345 (down 4.8% year-on-year)
  • April 1 – June 30, 2020: $503,346,977 (down 81.39% year-on-year)
  • January 1 – March 31, 2019: $2,394,637,477
  • April 1 – June 30, 2019: $2,705,148,172

As with the total win numbers, the April-through-June figures showed the massive decrease caused by the coronavirus shutdowns. This set of numbers also shows that taxable gross revenue didn’t suffer as much as gaming win.

Game License Numbers to Watch

One indicator of gaming success is the number of licensed machines and games. There are several different categories for this, from table and counter games to slots and poker.

There had already been some decreases from 2019 to 2020, more pronounced in poker than in any other category. But there are also significant drops from the January-March period to the April-June period this year.

For licensed table and counter games:

  • January-March 2020 = 4,368
  • April-June 2020 = 3,105
  • January-March 2019 = 4,410
  • April-June 2019 = 4,411

For licensed slot machines:

  • January-March 2020 = 119,928
  • April-June 2020 = 90,524
  • January-March 2019 = 120,021
  • April-June 2019 = 120,285

And for poker tables in land-based casinos:

  • January-March 2020 = 467
  • April-June 2020 = 209
  • January-March 2019 = 457
  • April-June 2019 = 596

There was certainly a significant dip in table games and slots from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2020. There were 40.7% fewer table and counter games requiring licensing due to casino closures, and there were 32.48% fewer slots. Table games were tougher to restart when casinos reopened because of the need for players to touch cards and chips, whereas slot machines could be maneuvered around the casino floor to create social distancing.

The poker drops were more pronounced.

First, it’s important to note that each year, the first second three-month period is usually higher than the first because casinos prepare to handle the influx of players in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Players from around the world increase the demand for poker tables in many casinos, thus the 2019 increase from 457 to 596.

That makes the drop in 2020 so significant. There was no WSOP in Las Vegas this year, as the brand went online. In addition, many casinos did not open their poker rooms when they reopened their gaming floors because of the difficulty in maintaining sanitizing protocols and social distancing for poker. Players simply must touch the chips and cards to play the game, so many casinos stayed away from poker. Some did reopen their poker rooms with extra precautions, but poker players were slow to return.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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