Reports say 2022 was good for Nevada casinos and Las Vegas tourism

LAS VEGAS >> The year 2022 was a good one for gambling and tourism in Nevada, where statewide casino profits set yearly records and Las Vegas visitor counts nearly reached pre-pandemic levels coronavirus.

“Las Vegas enjoyed a strong recovery trajectory in leading tourism indicators in 2022,” the regional Convention and Visitors Authority said in a report summarizing December and year-end visitor volume figures Tuesday.

“The year closed with 38.8 million annual visitors,” the report says, an increase of more than 20% from 2021 and just under 9% from 42.5 million in 2019.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said separately that 459 large casinos across the state earned an all-time high of $14.8 billion last year, up more than 23% from calendar year 2019.

That translated to nearly $945 million in taxes and fees for the state, said Michael Lawton, a senior analyst for the board. That’s an increase of about $8 million compared to 2021 and almost 25% more than $758 million in 2019 before the pandemic.

The numbers are important, because casino taxes account for about 17% of state revenue, second only to sales taxes in a state that has no personal income tax.

A 10-year bar chart of what the board calls “casino profit” figures shows steady yearly increases since 2013, except for 2020, when all casinos and many other businesses across the state closed from mid-March to early June 2020.

December marked the 22nd straight month that casinos reported at least $1 billion in winnings, which is an unprecedented stretch, Lawton said.

“We are still feeling the effects of pent-up demand from COVID, as well as general interest growth,” said Brett Abarbanel, executive director of the International Institute of Gaming at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“Our entertainment mix has grown through COVID and beyond,” he said, quoting, “sports, shows, concerts and, of course, gambling.”

Convention attendance has also been picking up in Las Vegas, the visitors authority said. It drew just under 5 million people at conferences and trade shows in 2022, or about three-quarters of the 2019 tally of 6.6 million convention attendees.

Lawton noted that a big new gaming property is opening in Nevada in 2022: Legends Bay Casino in Sparks. Several businesses closed, including the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino, and the Fiesta, Texas Station and Fiesta Henderson properties in the Las Vegas area.

Statewide table game winnings of $4.8 billion surpassed the previous record of $4.4 billion set in 2007, Lawton said. House winnings from blackjack and other card games, baccarat, craps and roulette were higher in 2022 than in 2021.

Casino sportsbooks set a new record last year, earning nearly $447 million statewide on $8.7 billion in bets, Lawton said. In 2021, those numbers were $445 million and $8.1 billion.

Mobile app sports betting accounted for more than 68% of sports betting statewide, up from 65% last year, Lawton added.

UNLV’s Abarbanel attributed the rapid growth of online sports betting to a “novelty effect” as more states allow Internet gambling and aggressive advertising by legal betting companies.

“Usually this novelty effect levels off after a while,” she observed, adding that current levels of publicity have prompted some states to make what she called “regulatory changes that toughen their original plans.”