Nevada casino gaming revenue plummets 99.4% in May

Nevada’s gambling regulator’s monthly revenue releases are starting to resemble classified intelligence reports, leaving us absolutely no clearer as to who might have playing that slot machine on the grassy knoll.

On Tuesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) released its casino gaming revenue figures for the month of May, which showed total statewide revenue of just $5,808,507, a 99.4% decline from the same month last year. That said, it was up from just $3.65m that the casinos reported in April, so yay progress.

In addition to being decimated by the COVID-19 closure of all casinos, the reports for both April and May are also notable for the big black bars hiding the minimal revenue contributions from online poker and sports betting. If you squint your eyes, you can almost convince yourself that you’re reading virtually any page from the Mueller report.

The data lockdown is based on NGCB rules that require its gaming verticals to have “three or more” licensees in order to reveal revenue specifics, ostensibly to protect proprietary operator info. The state currently has only one active online poker licensee – Caesars Entertainment’s WSOP.com – so breaking out the betting data would reveal how much (or how little) the site is currently generating.

What we can say is that, despite the statewide shutdown of land-based gaming, the few slots still whirring somehow generated revenue of $229k in May. Huzzah. 

Nevada casinos were allowed to reopen on June 4 with enhanced safety measures that were intended to minimize further COVID-19 transmission. But the state’s infection rate has skyrocketed this month, prompting the authorities to drop their guidance asking operators to ‘encourage’ mask use by customers in favor of a more hardnosed ‘no mask, no service’ policy.

That wasn’t enough to prevent a lawsuit by the casino workers’ Culinary Union, which argued this week that the rush to reopen the casinos relied on “wholly and dangerously inadequate” protections for staff. The suit specifically targets Caesars Entertainment’s Harrah’s Las Vegas and MGM Resorts’ Bellagio and Signature Condominiums.

Nevada reported 562 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, as well as three additional deaths. Hospitalizations rose for the eighth consecutive day to 407, topping the previous record of 376 in late March. The state’s seven-day average positive test rate hit a worrisome 16%, more than three times the rate the World Health Organization recommends before economies are allowed to reopen.

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