New Nevada report shows which games gamblers played most

There’s no arguing 2020 was one of the worst for casinos in years.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s December statistical wrap-up released last week shares details about the financial fallout as well as specifics about the games to which gamblers gravitated.

First, the ugly details many already know: Nevada’s nonrestricted gaming win — the big casinos and not the bars, taverns and convenience stores with fewer than 15 slot machines — fell 34.6 percent from 2019 to $7.87 billion for the calendar year. That follows a 1 percent increase last year and a steady upward climb over the past 10 years.

Casino win” is important to us in Nevada because those numbers determine how much gaming tax will go into the state’s general fund.

Slot machine win fell 31.7 percent to $5.42 billion for the year, while table game win was off 40 percent to $2.46 billion. It’s clear that slot machines still command most of the casino gambler’s attention with slot win generating 68.8 percent of the total gaming win in 2020.

Win trends in Southern Nevada were fairly consistent with the rest of the state’s trends.

Clark County casinos reported total win of $6.54 billion, down 36.8 percent, with $4.29 billion from slots and $2.25 billion from table games.

Gaming win evidence supports the theory that the Strip has been hurt worse in the pandemic than other markets, which makes sense because international travel is virtually gone.

Total win on the Strip fell 43.3 percent to $3.73 billion. Compare that with drops of 32.2 percent to $464.2 million in downtown Las Vegas, 24 percent to $655.4 million on the Boulder Strip, 32.4 percent to $204.5 million in North Las Vegas, 28.4 percent to $366.7 million in Laughlin and 20.5 percent to $108.6 million in Mesquite.

Thanks to the 78-day shutdown of casinos from mid-March through early June, the coin-in for slot machines and the table-game drop — the amount wagered — fell dramatically in 2020.

Slot coin-in decreased 31.6 percent to $78.61 billion, while table drop fell 35.5 percent to $19.1 billion statewide. While downtown Las Vegas and Strip slot coin-in fell 40.9 percent and 40.3 percent, respectively, in 2020, table-game drop didn’t fall as dramatically downtown. On the Strip, it was off 39.5 percent to $13.49 billion, while downtown table drop was down just 8.9 percent to $1.9 billion.

Breakdowns by game show trends in the direction of play over the years.

Blackjack continues to be the most popular table game in the casino, with 1,639 units statewide winning $643 million, a 14 percent win percentage for the casino.

Other popular games, by comparison, were roulette, 326 units winning $210.8 million with a 16.9 percent house win percentage, and craps, 255 units winning $210.8 million with a 17.2 win percentage.

The second-biggest money-maker in 2020 was baccarat, 280 units winning $604.3 million with an 11.3 percent win rate.

It’s clear to see why, by comparison, sportsbooks have such low margins and are popular attractions for players. In 2020, 106 sports pool units won $262.8 million, just a 20.2 percent decline from the previous year, and a win percentage of 6.1 percent.

Blackjack and baccarat have had the most volatile trend lines over the past decade. In 2009, casinos won $1.01 billion for blackjack and $978.3 million for baccarat.

In 2017, blackjack win peaked at $1.21 billion with 2,582 units, while baccarat win maxed in 2018 at $1.21 billion with 364 units. Just a few years later, blackjack was at $643 million and baccarat at $604.3 million. Both games have hovered around a 12 percent to 14 percent hold percentage for the casinos over the years.

Casino slot-machine win was down by double-digit percentages in 2020, but the games of choice have remained the same.

Multidenominational slots have produced the most money for casinos — and offer some of the best odds for slot players. Casinos won $2.38 billion with 47,536 units statewide in 2020, a decline of 27.3 percent from 2019. Casinos won 5.4 percent of the money that went into the machines.

The best odds for the player were on $25 slots. With 136 units, casinos won $14.91 million, a 49.9 percent decline from last year and a win percentage of 4.7 percent.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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