Inflation and looming recession be damned—Americans are still gambling.
Nevada collected $1.28 billion in gambling revenue from casinos, up 22.7% from pre-pandemic levels and up 8.1% over last June, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. June is the 16th consecutive month of more than $1 billion in revenue, a state record, and it was also the highest June total gaming revenue record of all time for the state.
“I’m not surprised with the gaming win figures—especially with what we’re hearing and witnessing with the airport and how busy it is,” says Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. “We are in good shape heading into the fall…and the billion-dollar win amount is looking safe.”
The Las Vegas Strip drove the increase in gaming win for June. Tourism is driving the record numbers as Harry Reid International Airport recorded its busiest month in June with 4.7 million passengers. But it’s not all good news: June marked the third consecutive month that saw gaming win decrease across every gambling market besides The Strip. Statewide, excluding The Strip, gaming revenue is down 7.5% compared with June 2021. Lawton says the submarkets are facing a deacceleration in growth and that comparing against the 2021 banner year is difficult.
“It’s the third consecutive month that the state would be down if not for The Strip—the markets are softening, but against all-time records,” says Lawton. “Comparisons are getting tough.”
Looking at the fiscal year ending June 2022, the state is up 37% compared to 2019, with a gambling revenue total of $14.6 billion—a state record for fiscal year total win. (The last record was in 2007, which recorded $12.7 billion.)
Interestingly, slot machines, the casino’s cash cow, saw the first dip in revenue since February 2021. Slots brought in $838.8 million in June, a 1.9% decrease over last June. The amount of money played on slot machines is down by 2.1% during the same time. But compared to 2019, slot win is up 31.8%.
“We didn’t beat June 2021, but we’re ahead of pre-pandemic levels,” say Lawton. “Comparisons to [the growth seen] in 2021 is difficult, but we’re well above 2019, which was a great year for gaming.”
Statewide, table, counter, and card game win is also down, although only by 0.5%. Revenue from sportsbooks across the Silver State is down 18.3% in June compared with the same month last year. Wagers totaled $490 million, down 10% from June 2021—putting an end to the nine-month streak of increased betting volumes.
Baccarat, however, was June’s money-maker. The card game brought in $143.2 million, a 237% increase. The state came out ahead in June thanks to Baccarat and The Strip.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s latest report, 3.3 million people came to Vegas in June, up nearly 12% over last June but still down 7.8% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Hotel occupancy was at 82.7% in June, which is still down 9% compared to 2019.
Brendan Bussmann, the managing partner of B Global, a consulting firm focused on gaming, sports and hospitality, says The Strip had one of its best months ever, and overall most indicators are positive, but Bussmann sees “warning signs.” He thinks the dip in local markets is concerning and inflation could catch up to the tourism sector soon.
“It’s yet to be fully determined, but you could start to see some slumping across the industry,” says Lawton. “We’ve been in a recession—storm clouds ahead.”
But he still expects to see $1 billion in July, thanks to high tourism demand domestically and internationally. “Another good month ahead—let it ride,” he says.