Las Vegas booms in February

Las Vegas booms in February

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
The Strip enjoys a solid month despite ‘unfavourable’ calendar

Las Vegas bounced back after a poor close to 2016 with strong double-digit gross gaming revenue (GGR) growth with the Strip particularly buoyant, posting a 14 percent rise.

Revenues for Nevada as a whole topped the $1bn mark with Clark County – which includes all the Vegas properties – up over 14 percent to $925m. The Strip spiked to $532m. The $1.04bn is the highest GGR figures for February since 2013.

The rise came despite there being two less weekend days in the month that the year previously, however as John De Cree at Union Gaming points out, the figures were helped by the shift of the Chinese New Year in January this year. He also noted that the locals market would have seen some spill over from December due to New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday.

The Strip revenue rise was largely driven by the baccarat tables where revenue rose over 50 percent year-on-year on a 44 percent rise in turnover. Said De Cree: “Given the early timing of Chinese New Year, we'll need to look at January and February combined to get a more accurate read of underlying trends.”

He noted that baccarat volume was down 3.8 percent in February 2016 and “presents one of the toughest comps of the year.” “We estimate baccarat volume would be flat in January and February 2017 combined even if volume in February is down about 30 percent.”

Slot trends also improved for the month with revenue increasing over 6 percent following a 2 percent gain in December. Non-baccarat table play was up nearly 5 percent.

De Cree noted that key tourism indicators remained strong with revenue per average room rate increasing over 5 percent on the Strip and with higher occupancy. Visitation was up 1.1 percent and total air passengers through McCarran up 3.5 percent.

In the locals market, the revenue rise of nearly 13 percent represented a bounce back from the near equal decline in December. The Union Gaming team estimates that GGR would have decreased about 2.2 percent year-on-year after adjusting for the collections timing. De Cree continued: “That said, table hold was light. When factoring that in as well we estimate GGR would have bene down about 1 percent on a normalised basis, which we view as a relatively positive trend given the two fewer weekend days when compared with January 2016.”

Totally Gaming says: The importance of Chinese visitors to Las Vegas cannot be overstated as the baccarat figures for February suggest. Still, the with slot revenues up and visitation trends heading in the right direction, it shows that Vegas is enjoying a positive start to the year.

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