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Casinos win record-breaking billions in 2021

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Story at a glance

  • After ending the year with their 10th straight month of in-house winnings totaling $1 billion or more, Nevada casinos hit a record $13.4 billion in pre-tax gaming figures in 2021.
  • Figures in 2021 nearly double Nevada’s disappointing $7.9 billion in gaming revenue in 2020, though that was largely tied to pandemic shutdowns and social distancing orders.
  • Analysts say gambling activity in Nevada is likely to stabilize this year back to pre-pandemic levels.

Nevada casinos ended 2021 with their 10th consecutive month of in-house winnings totaling $1 billion or more, setting a record $13.4 billion in pre-tax gaming figures for the year, according to a Nevada Gaming Control Board report released Thursday.

The 2021 total nearly doubles the state’s dismal $7.9 billion in gaming revenue in 2020, though that was largely driven by pandemic shutdowns and travel restrictions. In-house winnings in 2019 totaled $12 billion – a figure previously hit only two times prior, in 2007 and 2006, the Nevada Independent reported.

Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton told the Independent that casino revenues had begun picking up in the early months of the year, when COVID-related indoor capacity restrictions were relaxed with the rollout of vaccines.

Demand for gambling through 2021 was “driven by healthy consumer savings as the result of stimulus payments and the sustained rebound of leisure travel,” he said.


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Travel certainly picked up in 2021, and Harry Reid International Airport this week reported 39.7 million passengers last year, up substantially over 2020. However that’s still down about 21 percent compared to the record 50.5 million travelers the airport saw in 2019.

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, more than 32.2 million people visited Las Vegas alone in 2021, nearly 25 percent fewer than in 2019, though still much higher than the 19 million visitors hosted in 2020.

In Clark County, Nevada, where Las Vegas is located, gaming revenues jumped above $11 billion in 2021, while Downtown Las Vegas topped $842 million in gaming revenues for the year – a new record.

Analysts say gambling activity in the state is likely to quiet down this year.

“I think the record revenues we have recorded the past 10 months will normalize at some point during calendar-year 2022 back to pre-pandemic levels of gaming win which we saw in calendar-year, 2019,” Lawton told the Independent.

Even when activity does start to inevitably settle down, many in Nevada are still crossing their fingers that revenues won’t start to drop off again.

“I am excited to see the continued economic progress when it comes to gaming revenues,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak told the Independent Thursday. “This is a strong measure of our state’s recovery.”


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