Las Vegas Tourism on the Mend, But Gaming Revenue Lags

February’s visitation to Las Vegas was up a healthy 19 percent over January’s. What the market would like to see now is more spending on the casino floor.

Signs are pointing to a steady return of tourists to Las Vegas but without a recovery in gaming revenues to match.

February numbers compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority show 1.5 million visits during the month, down almost 54 percent from the same month a year ago but up a healthy 19 percent over January.

Occupancy across Southern Nevada’s 145,300 hotel and motel rooms hit 42 percent, a 10 percent increase over January but still way below the 87 percent recorded in February 2020.

But with the first big convention since last March scheduled in June, the World of Concrete trade show, which is expected to draw 60,000 construction industry attendees to the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center, observers are hoping the momentum will continue.

Gaming revenues are still lagging, however. Statewide win was basically flat compared to January. Compared to last February, win on the Las Vegas Strip was down almost 42 percent and accounted for nearly 92 percent of February’s statewide decrease year on year of nearly 26 percent, according to results published by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Revenue for the state’s casinos totaled $772.4 million for the month, up slightly from January’s $762 million but a long way off from last February, which was one of the best months ever at $1 billion-plus.

“I would expect March 2021 to be up significantly over last March,” said Control Board analyst Michael Lawton said. “Gaming activity is improving due to improved metrics related to Covid-19, capacity limitations being increased and stimulus checks which are acting as a catalyst to elevated spending by consumers.”

The return of air travel from the market’s main sources of high rollers will be another key.

McCarran International Airport noted that international passenger traffic was down almost 95 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago, and the effects were apparent in an overall decline in passenger volume of 58 percent compared with February 2020.

Through the first two months of 2021, McCarran’s passenger numbers are 61 percent behind January and February 2020’s, with 3.1 million passengers so far this year compared to 8 million to start last year, according to data released by the Clark County Department of Aviation.