Heavy rains swept southern Nevada last week. According to the New York Times, they dumped about half the area’s annual rainfall in the span of two hours. The rainfall resulted in significant flooding on the Las Vegas Strip from Thursday evening into Friday morning.
That threatened to create major issues for business owners throughout the area. Casinos were no exception.
There is some good news, though. No one on the Strip was injured in the storm, according to the New York Post. And for Circa Sportsbook in downtown Las Vegas, at least, the mess from the flooding was cleaned up quickly.
That’s an impressive job by the staff and whatever outside help they brought in. Take a look at what Circa was dealing with on Friday morning.
Does that mean the only effect on the industry is the loss of revenue from a brief shutdown to repair the damage? No, it’s not quite as simple as that. However, all signs indicate that the damage to the Vegas casino and sports betting industry will be minor.
Circa owner Derek Stevens said in a video posted on Twitter that the sportsbook stayed open throughout the incident, which he described as an “epic deluge.” However, some areas did close for repairs and clean-up. Aside from replacing a TV screen, the financial impact should be manageable.
Still, there’s uncertainty about what comes next for the casino industry in Vegas. The flooding represented the latest challenge for a group of businesses that have had to deal with the lingering impact of the pandemic and now a sudden flood in one eventful year.
Will the Flooding Have Lasting Impacts on Las Vegas Strip Casinos?
Despite some head-turning visuals, Strip casinos seem to have kept the flood’s impacts in check.
Circa not only avoided having to shut its doors for an extended time but somehow avoided closing at all. No other casinos mentioned closures publicly, and various local reports on the aftermath of the flooding did not note any businesses shutting down.
The timing wasn’t as bad as it could be, either. While it hurt to lose customers on Friday and Saturday due to the flooding, the same circumstances would have been far more financially detrimental on a big weekend of college and NFL football.
As far as sports betting is concerned, Nevada is lucky to have mobile betting as an option. Much of the lost sportsbook revenue will presumably have been mitigated by patrons betting online instead. Unfortunately, Nevada lacks such an online option for casino gaming, which is the bigger money maker.
It’s also worth pointing out that insurance should cover most of the damage to equipment at Circa and elsewhere.
All-in-all, the most costly moment of the week for Vegas casinos might not have been flood-related at all. On Friday night, one lucky slots player at Sunset Station hit a $1.2 million jackpot on a $7 bet on a Wheel of Fortune slots machine.
Nevada Casinos are in Good Shape
Overall, the gaming business in the State of Nevada is booming. According to a Las Vegas Review-Journal piece by Richard N. Velotta last week, July marked the 16th consecutive month of gaming wins of over $1 billion for Nevada. That’s largely thanks to Strip casinos. It puts Nevada at $14.63 billion for 2021-22, the state’s “highest 12-month total in history.”
Nevada’s sports betting handle, however, did fall during June, per Pat Evans of Legal Sports Report. The state’s sportsbooks took $490.4 million last month, their lowest total since August 2021, according to a report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Of course, summer is always a slow time for sports betting, and this year is more so than last. The 2021 NBA Finals concluded on June 16. In 2021, they didn’t start until July 6 due to the late start to the season. That meant much more basketball to bet on in June last year, with four conference semifinal series, plus the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Could More Storms Be Coming?
A more significant concern is that last week’s floods might not be the last of the downpours. Multiple local outlets, including the Review-Journal, pointed out that forecasts call for monsoon conditions this week.
Withstanding one storm like last week’s, which brought nearly an inch of rain, is one thing. Dealing with multiple huge storms in a short time could compound the problems. It’s not clear whether casino owners would be prepared for that..
Weatherwise, the other factor working against the broader Vegas area is how dry the land was until the recent rains. Meteorologists say that heavy rainfall is a much bigger problem in a desert climate due to the lack of vegetation to absorb precipitation.
Last year, Nevada regulators attempted to organize a public workshop to discuss the possibility of authorizing online casino gaming, though it ultimately failed to take place. Perhaps it’s time to revisit that possibility.