Las Vegas Strip casino winnings were down 50 percent in December

Nevada 2020 casino winnings lowest since 1997 as NJ takes over as top sports betting market

The Las Vegas Strip recorded a total win of $3.7 billion for the year, down 43.3% from 2019.
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A Nevada regulator's report shows the state's casino house winnings totaled $7.8 billion for 2020, a 34.6 percent drop compared to 2019 and the lowest for a calendar year since 1997, and monthly winnings of $683.7 million, which were down 35.4 percent compared with December 2019. These figures, which were largely attributed to COVID-19 disruptions, also show that New Jersey has officially climbed to the top of the sports wagering industry, beating longstanding leader Nevada.

According to a Nevada Gaming Control Board report released Thursday, monthly casino winnings totaled $683.7 million in December, down 35.4% compared with the same month in 2019, and a figure that marks a historically bad month at the end of a historically bad year for Nevada casinos.

House winnings in the state totaled $7.8 billion for 2020, down 34.6% from the previous year, and the lowest for a calendar year since 1997, the Associated Press reports. Sports pool winnings of $262.8 million were down 20.2% on wagers totaling $4.3 billion, a decrease of 18.4%, according to the report, while slot machines generated almost 69% of casino winnings in 2020.

The report said gambling revenue decreased statewide in 2020, including Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Elko and rural areas.

The Las Vegas Strip recorded a total win of $3.7 billion for the year, down 43.3% from 2019. Last month's drop was most acute on the Las Vegas Strip, where the gaming win fell from $591.8 million in December 2019 to $292 million last month.

The state regulators cited the coronavirus pandemic for these decreases, as the figure, which the board dubs “casino win,” came in at about $12 billion in 2019 and 2018.

"The reason for the decrease to this calendar year was the result of the suspension of gaming operations from March 18 through June 4 due to COVID-19," the report said. "This 78-day closure had a significant impact on gaming win amounts."

December was the worst full month statewide since August 1997 and the worst full month for the Las Vegas Strip since December 1993, board senior analyst Michael Lawton said.

“December, although very weak in terms of gaming win, unfortunately was not a huge surprise," Lawton said.

The state collected a little more than $30 million in percentage fees based on the December numbers, down about 40.4% from a year ago. A year ago, the figure topped $50.4 million.

State percentage fee revenues of $509 million for calendar year 2020 were down nearly 33%, according to a board report. The figure from 2019 was almost $757 million.

Business during December was hurt by the absence of events including the annual National Finals Rodeo, which was held instead in Arlington, Texas, Lawton said.

He also cited cancellation of New Year’s Eve fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip and casino capacity limits enacted by the state to limit crowds and the spread of COVID-19.

Nevada has 468 non-restricted gambling license holders like casinos, and 2,000 restricted licensees like bars, gas stations and supermarkets with 15 or fewer slot machines.

Washoe County casinos tallied $676 million, a decrease of 21.1% and the lowest total since 1986. 

New Jersey defeats Nevada as sports betting leader in 2020

The state's total handle of just over $6 billion in 2020 blew away Nevada, where $4.3 billion was bet according to the Nevada regulator's report.

The first legal bet in New Jersey wasn’t placed until June 14, 2018, and sports betting jumped from $4.58 billion in 2019 despite the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down much of the sports world for several months.

But while New Jersey, led by the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, with gross revenues of $206.5 million in 2020, has made great strides, there’s work to be done when it comes to the most important sporting event of the year, reports.

According to, Nevada led the way last year in Super Bowl betting, taking in $154.7 million, compared to just $54.2 million in New Jersey. And while Nevada had a positive hold of 12.1 percent, for revenue of $18.8 million, New Jersey lost $4.3 million on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

Now the Chiefs are back, taking on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs on their home turf at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, with the Chiefs installed as the early 3.5-point favorite.

So the next two weeks are important ones for Garden State racetracks and casinos, as they try to close the gap on Nevada when it comes to the crown jewel of sports betting.

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