Nevada casinos won more money from gamblers in May than in any other month in the state’s gambling history.
According to numbers released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, gamblers lost $1.23 billion in Silver State casinos in May. The massive figure surpasses the previous record, which was set in October 2017 when casinos won $1.17 billion.
It’s the third straight month that the state’s gambling operators have combined to surpass the $1 billion mark in gross gaming revenue, further cementing the market’s rebound in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, casinos reported winning $1.039 billion.
“We’re surprised, if you would’ve asked me last month, I wouldn’t have said we’d hit $1 billion three months in a row,” senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board Michael Lawton told Forbes. “There’s strong demand, consumers are healthy and visitation to the Strip is rebounding.”
The Las Vegas Strip generally drives the state’s overall numbers. Even while the industry was in a decline after Gov. Steve Sisolak reopened the casino market in June 2020, the areas where local gamblers were the main customer base saw rebounds quicker than the tourist-friendly Las Vegas Strip.
In May, Strip casinos accounted for $655.5 million of the state’s total gambling revenue. Clark County, which encompasses the greater Las Vegas area, made up nearly the entirety of it with $1.052 billion in gambling revenue from that county alone.
The year-over-year numbers are worthless, considering that the state’s entire market was forced to close for the duration of 2020. Outside of online gambling, which is mostly just poker, there was nothing for Nevada bettors to gamble on. Most areas were posting massive year-over-year declines a year ago.
Regardless, the record-setting figures represent an insane 20,970% increase. Even when compared to May 2019, before the pandemic, every district in the state experienced a bump in revenue. The Strip is up 26.7% compared to May 2019.
The massive increase in demand comes as vaccination rates are increasing and COVID-induced restrictions are declining. In mid-May, most Las Vegas casinos began getting rid of the plexiglass dividers that were installed to separate players and increase social distancing. Less than a week later, regulators dropped the mask mandate for vaccinated gamblers, shifting their rules to align with new CDC guidelines.
While this record was mostly due to the increase in revenue on the Las Vegas Strip, other areas of the state also saw healthy gains. Following a reported win of $61.8 million in April, Reno casinos saw a small jump to $65.8 million in May. Compared to April, downtown Las Vegas revenue remained relatively flat with $75.2 million in winnings.