LAS VEGAS (AP) — The year 2022 was good for gambling and tourism in Nevada, where winnings at casinos statewide set calendar year records and Las Vegas visitor tallies nearly reached levels before the coronavirus pandemic.
“Las Vegas enjoyed a robust recovery trajectory across core tourism indicators in 2022," the regional Convention and Visitors Authority said in a report summarizing December and year-end visitor volume figures on Tuesday.
“The year closed out with 38.8 million annual visitors,” the report said, up more than 20% from 2021 and down just under 9% from 42.5 million in 2019.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board said separately that 459 large casinos statewide won an all-time high $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, Michael Lawton, board senior analyst said. That's an increase of about $8 million compared with 2021 and up almost 25% from $758 million in pre-pandemic 2019.
The figures are important, because casino taxes make up about 17% of state revenues, second only to sales taxes in a state that has no personal income tax.
A 10-year bar chart of what the board terms “casino win" figures shows steady annual increases since 2013, except in 2020 when all casinos and many other businesses statewide were closed from mid-March to early June 2020.
December marked the 22nd consecutive month that casinos reported at least $1 billion in winnings, which is an unprecedented stretch, Lawton said.
“We’re still feeling the effects of pent-up demand from COVID, as well as overall growth of 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.”
Convention attendance has also been recovering in Las Vegas, the visitors authority said. It counted 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 large, new gambling property opened 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.
Table-game winnings statewide of $4.8 billion topped 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 books set a new record last year, winning almost $447 million statewide on $8.7 billion in wagers, Lawton said. In 2021, those figures were $445 million and $8.1 billion.
Sports wagers made using mobile apps accounted for more than 68% of sports wagers statewide, up from 65% last year, Lawton added.
Abarbanel, at UNLV, attributed rapid growth in online sports betting to a “novelty effect” as more states allow internet bets and aggressive advertising by legal betting companies.
“Typically, this novelty effect plateaus after a while,” she observed, adding that current levels of advertising have prompted some states to make what she termed “regulatory changes that tighten up their original plans.”
This story has been corrected to reflect the correct year that casino sports book figures were $445 million and $8.1 billion.