Nevada Economic Forum expects gradual gaming recovery

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Nevada Economic Forum is met Thursday to review revenue forecasts.

Through mixed economic news in the past few months, the forecasts have changed very little.

Gaming wins at Las Vegas casinos in October indicate casinos are doing much better, and news of the vaccine could mean cause for optimism. But at the same time, some resorts have closed midweek as tourism demand is slow to catch up, and occupancy limits reduce the profits that are possible for hotels.

Since June, gaming revenue is down $1.4 billion — 27 percent. And the forecast for fiscal year 2021 is conservative: $8.7 blllion, down more than 11 percent.

Locals playing slot machines have driven much of the recovery in casinos, but the absence of travelers has limited the table game wins.

Among the factors playing into recovering revenue: Gaming revenues, revenue from live entertainment and sales tax revenues. Revenue from retail sales has exceeded expectations.

On top of it all, the absence of conventions and big events — like New Year’s Eve fireworks — is weighing heavily on the economy and forcing lower expectations of a speedy recovery.

In early November, the Governor’s Finance Office sent a memo to executive branch directors and agency heads directing all state agencies to prepare proposed budget reserves of 12 percent for each year of the upcoming 2021-2023 biennium. 

Today’s Economic Forum report is a sober reminder of the devastating impacts COVID-19 has caused in our state,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said. “This global pandemic has created both a fiscal and economic crisis in our state, and my office, the Governor’s Finance Office and state agencies will continue the challenging task of preparing an Executive Budget based on our new fiscal reality with the goal of preserving vital services as we plan for a post-COVID future.”

“Once the Legislative Session begins, I look forward to working with Nevada lawmakers on finalizing the budget,” Sisolak said.

He added that the state is not alone in facing revenue gaps, and the federal government needs to help with additional stimulus money. 

The forecasts are important to setting state budgets and spending levels, which have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The full meeting appears below:

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