LAS VEGAS (AP) — The year 2022 was a good one for gaming and tourism in Nevada, where winnings at casinos nationwide set calendar year records and Las Vegas attendance nearly reached pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
“Las Vegas recorded a robust recovery trajectory in key tourism indicators in 2022,” the regional Convention and Visitors Authority said in a report summarizing December and year-end visitor numbers on Tuesday.
“The year ended with 38.8 million annual visitors,” the report said, up more than 20% from 2021 and down nearly 9% from 42.5 million in 2019.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board said separately that 459 major casinos across the state won an all-time high of $14.8 billion last year, up more than 23% from calendar 2019.
That translated to nearly $945 million in taxes and fees for the state, said Michael Lawton, senior analyst to the board. That’s an increase of about $8 million compared to 2021 and a nearly 25% increase from $758 million in the pre-pandemic year.
The numbers are important because casino taxes account for about 17% of state revenue, surpassed only by sales taxes in a state that doesn’t have a personal income tax.
A 10-year bar chart of what the board calls “casino earnings” shows steady annual increases since 2013, except in 2020, when all casinos and many other businesses nationwide were closed from mid-March to early June 2020.
December marked the 22nd straight month in which casinos reported at least $1 billion in winnings, an unprecedented stretch, Lawton said.
“We’re still feeling the impact of COVID’s pent-up demand, as well as the overall growing interest,” said Brett Abarbanel, executive director of the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“Our entertainment mix has grown through COVID and beyond,” she said, citing “sports, shows, concerts and of course gambling.”
In Las Vegas, too, convention attendance has recovered, the Visitors Authority said. There were nearly 5 million people at conferences and trade shows in 2022, or about three-quarters of the 6.6 million convention attendees in 2019.
Lawton noted that in 2022 Nevada would open a major new gaming property: Legends Bay Casino in Sparks. Several businesses were closed, including the Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino, and the Fiesta, Texas Station, and Fiesta Henderson properties in the Las Vegas area.
The nationwide 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 all higher in 2022 than in 2021.
Casino sports betting set a new record last year, winning nearly $447 million on $8.7 billion in bets nationwide, Lawton said. In 2021, those numbers were $445 million and $8.1 billion.
Sports betting made with mobile apps accounted for more than 68% of sports betting nationwide, up from 65% last year, Lawton added.
UNLV’s Abarbanel attributed the rapid growth in online sports betting to a “novelty effect” as more states allow internet betting and aggressive advertising by legitimate bookmakers.
“Typically, after a while, that novelty effect stagnates,” she noted, adding that current advertising levels have prompted some states to make what she called “regulatory changes” that tighten their original plans.