Nevada casinos enjoy baccarat bounce in October, but dire November awaits

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Nevada casinos posted a modest gaming revenue increase from September to October, but new COVID-19 restrictions have the mayor of Las Vegas calling the state’s governor a dictator.

Figures released Tuesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) show statewide casino gaming revenue of slightly under $822.7m, down 19.5% from the same month last year and a mere $1.6m higher than the state reported in September 2020.

The brunt of October’s decline came via the Las Vegas Strip, which reported revenue falling 30.2% to $375.8m, while downtown Vegas slipped 22.7% to $52.8m. The picture was far less bleak outside Clark County, with areas like Reno and Lake Tahoe posting decent annual growth.

Statewide slots revenue was down 19% to $565.8m, while the ‘table, counter & card games’ segment fell 20.4% to $256.8m. Baccarat revenue rose 4.6% to $59.3m and mini-baccarat gained 5.2% to $7.2m, but all other table games save bingo were broadly negative, led by blackjack ($60.2m, -24.8%), craps ($27.6m, -13%) and roulette ($18.5m, -34.4%).

Over at the sportsbooks, betting revenue was down 11.5% to $42.4m despite wagering handle rising more than one-fifth year-on-year to a record $659.2m. Both figures pale in comparison to New Jersey’s licensed betting market, which reported records for both handle ($803.1m) and revenue ($58.5m) in October.

While football betting revenue jumped nearly one-quarter to $32.6m, baseball slumped nearly 55% to $5.2m while basketball resulted in a net loss for the books of $189k. Hockey was also in the red with a $1.1m loss while parlay wagers dipped 14.4% to $3.9m and ‘other’ sports slipped 7.3% to $2m.

Tougher times lie ahead for Nevada gaming operators as Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Sunday he was halving the casinos’ maximum capacity to 25% until mid-December in response to the state’s soaring COVID-19 case rate. The new rules took effect Tuesday (24).

Even before that announcement, MGM Resorts declared that it would shut its Mandalay Bay and Mirage hotels on a Monday-through-Thursday basis starting Nov. 30. The company said it didn’t expect the mid-week closures to remain “past December” but admitted that it would amend its policies as demand dictated.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, whose COVID-19 views tend to echo Donald Trump’s irrationally optimistic outlook, reacted predictably to Nevada’s new restrictions in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, calling Sisolak “a dictator with whom we have complied every step of the way. We’ve had no choice.”

Goodman claimed that Sisolak had “tried all these measures, and [the virus] is still here.” Goodman suggested that Nevada’s pandemic problems won’t abate until the new vaccines arrive and predicted that Sisolak would impose further restrictions once Sisolak’s three-week ‘pause’ has concluded.

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