Las Vegas, America’s Playground had been devastated in the last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak locked down the city for three full months in the spring of 2020.
Now Las Vegas is bouncing back to its pre-covid numbers. New economic reports show increases in airport passengers and tourism last month. To top it off a big jump is seen in a key index where casinos statewide took in $1 billion in winnings last month for the first time since February 2020.
“I don’t believe anyone imagined this level of gaming win,” Michael Lawton, senior Nevada Gaming Control Board analyst, said showing 452 full-scale casinos in the state reported house winnings at the highest total since February 2013.
The $1.07 billion reported last month outdid even the $1.02 billion the board charted in March 2019.
Lawton called March 2021 “the perfect storm for gaming activity in Nevada.”
The pent-up demand for travel, in addition to the casino’s capacity being raised to 50% on March 15. And the NCAA basketball tournament being played, after last year’s cancellation, are a few reasons for this outcome.
Recently, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority started a new advertising campaign and on Tuesday reported that it saw more than 2.2 million visitors in March. The tourism figure was still down 40 percent compared to March of 2019 but up 25 percent from March of 2002, before casinos and other businesses began to shut to prevent people from gathering and spreading COVID-19.
Spending on gambling is thought to have gotten a boost after direct payments of up to $1,400 went to most American citizens under the $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief measure, said Lawton.
Las Vegas Strip properties reported house winnings of around $501 million in March, up almost 44% from about $348 million in February.
Spikes in five other reporting markets were noticed setting all-time records for casino winnings: downtown Las Vegas, the Boulder Highway area, the rest of Clark County surrounding Las Vegas, Elko County and the Carson City area.
State-wide slot winnings were reported as the second highest total in history at $772 million — and slot machine volume was the highest since July 2008, Lawton said.
Nevada sports books recorded nearly $641 million in March with winnings of $39.3 million, second in the nation to New Jersey where sports pools handled $859 million and won $60.7 million.