Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2021

Currently: 80° — Complete forecast

Nevada casino, tourism, airport data reflect May closures


John Locher / AP

In this May 21, 2020, photo, chairs have been removed at some electronic slot machines to maintain social distancing at a closed Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Nevada casinos were closed throughout May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated Tuesday, June 30, 2020 | 7:50 p.m.

Casinos that were closed through May due to the coronavirus pandemic yielded nearly no tax revenue for Nevada, state regulators reported Tuesday.

In one of a series of economic reports showing tourism fell dramatically after businesses were shuttered in mid-March, the state Gaming Control Board said gambling establishments reported a 99.4% decrease in house winnings compared with the same month a year ago.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported a nearly 96% drop in visitor volume compared with May 2019, and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, said Monday it charted a 91.5% decrease in monthly passenger traffic.

The bleak numbers followed similar results in April and showed the effects of two full months of casino and businesses closures that Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sisolak let casinos reopen June 4.

State health officials have reported increases in recent days in the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19. The Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that just under 18,500 people have tested positive for the virus and 507 have died, mostly in the Las Vegas area. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus cause s mild or moderate symptoms for two to three weeks. The vast majority recover. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death.

The state collected just $56,000 in gambling taxes based on May revenues, down 99.9% compared with a year ago, according to the Gaming Control Board report.

A small amount of revenue came from mobile sports betting and interactive poker that weren’t suspended, board analyst Michael Lawton said.

The numbers are more dramatic compared with February, when casinos on a hot streak reported a third straight month of $1 billion in house winnings.

The convention authority tallied just 151,000 tourists in and around Las Vegas, which has more than 150,000 hotel rooms when fully open.

McCarran handled fewer than 392,000 passengers in May, compared with nearly 4.6 million a year earlier. The airport handled a record 51.5 million arriving and departing travelers in calendar 2019.