Las Vegas regains life from coronavirus battering, casinos rake in US$1b

Las Vegas is bouncing back to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, with new economic reports showing increases in airport passengers and tourism, and a big jump in a key index showing that casinos statewide took in US$1 billion in winnings last month for the first time since February 2020, AP reports.

“I don’t believe anyone imagined this level of gaming win,” Michael Lawton, senior Nevada Gaming Control Board analyst, said of a Tuesday report showing 452 full-scale casinos in the state reported house winnings at the highest total since February 2013.

The US$1.07 billion reported last month topped even the US$1.02 billion the board charted in March 2019.

Lawton called March 2021 “the perfect storm for gaming activity in Nevada.”

“Demand was obviously a driver,” he said, “in addition to capacity being increased to 50 percent on March 15 and the NCAA basketball tournament being played, after last year’s cancellation.”

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which launched a new advertising campaign on Monday, reported Tuesday that it tallied more than 2.2 million visitors in March.

The tourism figure was down by 40 percent compared with the same month two years ago, but up from the 1.5 million tourists the authority tallied in the first half of March 2020, before casinos and other businesses were closed to prevent people from gathering and spreading the coronavirus disease.

McCarran International Airport said Monday it handled nearly 2.6 million passengers last month, up 961,000 from about 1.6 million arriving and leaving passengers in February.

In March 2019, by comparison, the airport counted 4.4 million passengers on the way to a record-setting 51.5 million travelers in 2019.

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