How Much Money Does A Las Vegas Casino Make Daily

Dec 08, 2020 How Much Money Land-Based Casinos Make. While we can’t report on every casino globally, we can look at the overall profits in Las Vegas for 2013. The University of Las Vegas found that 23 casinos made over $72 million each, totaling over $5 billion. That’s roughly $630 000 per day without considering costs. The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) MGM owns and operates some of the most popular casinos in Las Vegas and other locations around the U.S. In Las Vegas, this means the popular MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mirage and Mandalay Bay resorts are part of the M Life program. The program has five elite tiers, which require a.


If you’re entertaining dreams of owning your own casino one day, you’ll need anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few billion.

The casino business is so lucrative that every time a new casino opens as “the most expensive casino ever built,” investors pop champagne bottles and raise a toast. It wasn’t always that way. Only a few decades ago, casino operators built on slim budgets.

Steve Wynn gambled big in the late ‘80s when he opened The Mirage in Las Vegas. Wynn and his backers invested an unheard-of $630 million in the new casino. At the time, industry analysts calculated the casino would have to turn an average daily profit of at least $1 million to meet its financial obligations.

The Mirage was supposed to pay for itself over seven years. Wynn paid off the debt in less than two years. That works out to more than $4 million profit per day.

In 2019 dollars, that isn’t so bad. If a casino has only 1,000 gaming machines, it can turn a $5 million daily profit just by retaining an average $1000 per machine.

According to a 2015 Las Vegas Sun article, about 40 million people visited Las Vegas on an annual basis at that time. That works out to nearly 110,000 visitors to Las Vegas daily. There are just over 100 casinos in Las Vegas.

In 2017, it was then reported that annual visitors had climbed to more than 42 million.

If each visitor loses only an average of $100 per day, Las Vegas is raking in $11 million in casino earnings every day. The reality is much more startling.

In 2013, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas published a study on the daily revenues of the 23 big casinos on the Strip. To be included in the study, a casino had to produce gaming revenue at least $72 million a year. The average for each of the big 23 turned out to be over $230 million per year.

That’s a far cry since The Mirage opened in 1989, but competition has changed the city’s gaming industry. Here is a deeper look at what it costs to build a casino.

Location, Location, Location

If you want to build a casino for as little as possible, buy cheap land. Where that wicket becomes sticky is in finding the right land. Not only do you need favorable laws allowing gambling and zoning for casinos, but you also need at least a good nearby highway.

Las Vegas is a hub for three Interstate highways and several US highways. The city is also home to McCarran International Airport. About 40 million passengers pass through the airport every year.

Considering AmTrak carries passengers to the city as well, tourists visit the city by car, bus, train, and plane.

If you decide to build your own casino, lacking the transportation channels that Las Vegas boasts means your location will attract fewer annual visitors. This probably explains why few cities dominate the casino industry. The casinos need both good zoning and access to transportation to attract visitors.

Hence, you should expect to pay a lot of money for the land.

Size Counts In Every Way

The Mirage currently boasts about 2,000 slot machine games. While that sounds like a lot, the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, OK has about six times the floor space as The Mirage. The WinStar opened in 2003, making it 14 years younger than The Mirage.

According to their website in 2019, the WinStar holds about 8400 slot machines. They also have a 55-table poker room, all squeezed into 400,000 feet of floor space. If you want to compete with the WinStar, you’ll need a lot of floor space and thousands of more games.

Amazingly, Thackerville only has one Intestate highway passing through it. The nearest international airport is in Dallas, TX. WinStar is competing on size and landscape.

The casino is owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation, who had plenty of available land for development. That’s an advantage over the average commercial developer. By owning the land as part of their reservation, they were able to invest more in creating a high-quality resort.

You Need a Hotel and Restaurant


One reason why good casinos cost so much to build is the bigger casinos contain or are paired with big hotels. By providing their visitors with safe, comfortable accommodations, they ensure those visitors spend more time in their gaming areas.

On-site entertainment and dining venues enhance the hotel and casino experience. The farther away from Vegas and Atlantic City one gets in the United States, the less extravagant the casinos tend to become.

Only a handful of states and cities allow commercial casinos to congregate in their jurisdictions. The demand for suitable land limits the competition.

Biloxi, MS is North America’s third big commercial casino hub.

In Biloxi, venues like Beau Rivage, Treasure Bay, and Hard Rock offer attractive accommodations and gaming areas.

The Beau Rivage may be the best known of the Biloxi casinos. They only offer about 1800 slot games. Owned by MGM Resorts, Beau Rivage promotes its hotel, entertainment, dining, and nightlife venues equally with the casino.

These are not afterthoughts. They are part and parcel major pieces of the whole package.

According to Fixr.com, the average cost of a hotel in the United States is just over $22 million. A hotel comparable to the resorts at WinStar or Beau Rivage will easily set you back in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Factor in the Cost of Games

Assuming the hypothetical new casino brings in a lot of slot machines, how much do they cost?

The website HowMuchIsIt.org rounds up a list of price ranges for popular slot machines. Expect to pay at least several thousand dollars per basic game. The enhanced games may run $30,000 or more for the consoles.

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Assuming you pay $20,000 for a brand new game and begin with a small investment of 500 machines, expect to finance about $10 million just for the slot machines.

If you can bring enough people in, the games should pay for themselves in only a few months. That’s not so bad.

However, the games will need to be maintained. A new casino must include the cost of hiring qualified staff or for paying authorized service contracts.

Plant Operations Are Expensive

Whether you’re building a roadside casino with 100 machines or planning a massive resort with more than a handful of casino games, the buildings will need electricity, water, heating and air systems, sewage, and maintenance areas.

A large resort has a plant facility with workshops, storage rooms, receiving areas, and more. Even a small casino needs a place to service machines and receive products and services.

Assuming a modest 200-room hotel is built on the property, it will have its own plant facility. Ditto for a small restaurant.

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This new casino will need tools and equipment no one thinks about when pushing buttons and counting cards. There are lighting systems, sound systems, security systems, communication systems, and staff offices.

Employees will need dressing rooms and lockers, or at least their own break room.

Administration will need at least one office, maybe two if there is a dedicated full-time security team.

The cashiers will need a counting room and vault.

All these facilities must be built out, equipped, and brought online. This is all before you hire your first employee.

Conclusion

If the idea of building a new casino seems crazy, it is. This is an industry for billionaires and rich investment fund managers to play in. It’s not for the faint-hearted or small business person.

It’s true there are hundreds of small casinos that do just fine. With only a few dozen to a few hundred games, they cater to local customers. They don’t need big highways, trains, and airports.

Even so, the cost of setting up a small commercial will run into the millions of dollars. Most communities won’t accept commercial casinos. Most states don’t license them. The Native American tribes may contract with casino management companies but only the big ones.

In short, it costs a lot of money to open a casino. Buying one is out of the question for most people. Donald Trump is believed to have lost about $1 billion in investors’ money by trying to buy his way into Atlantic City.

Short of inheriting a small fortune or casino, this kind of development is one game well beyond the reach of typical investors and small business owners.

How do Vegas Casinos Make Money?

The answer seems obvious right? Gambling. Hell, I just lost $200 at the craps table last week. Vegas casinos are ornate palaces. And those palaces are funded by people that get a kick out of feeding machines and chasing royal flushes.

What about all the “fringe” activities though? The dining, night clubs,hotel, shows, retail ,etc. Are they simply a draw to get us in the door as a loss leader or do they contribute to the casino’s bottom line as well. To answer the question, I dug into MGM Resorts 2016 financial report.

See Also:77 free things to do in Vegas. A complete list!

For those unfamiliar, MGM owns a number of properties in Las Vegas to include MGM Grand, Luxor, Bellagio, Excalibur, Circus Circus, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Mirage and Mandalay Bay. The accounting that I am looking at does include some non-Vegas properties as well, however, still provides a solid revenue and profitability snapshot.

Below is a high-level overview of MGM’s revenue per category or, simply put, what customers spent per activity before MGM deducted out expenses.

Casino revenue is defined as what the casino “won” over the year after paying out players. “Other Income” would be defined as income made outside of MGM’s core business (Example: Rented out excess warehouse space not being used to another, unrelated, organization).

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Revenue per Category:

As you look at Revenue generated by MGM, it’s no secret that the Casino is king accounting for 48% of money coming in. Hotel rooms and Food/Beverage come in as the second two largest generators accounting for 20% and 16% of the company’s revenue in 2016 respectively.

When you take the revenue per category and subtract out the expenses incurred, you can get a nice, simplistic, high level picture of what the casino profits off of each category.

Although other categories carry some weight for MGM, the Casino still nets almost as much money as the rest of the categories combined at $2.2 billion dollars in net profit vs. $2.5 billion dollars net by room sales, entertainment, food/beverage and “other” combined.

There are additional expenses that eat away at MGM’s bottom line that aren’t directly attributable to one of the revenue categories above such as corporate expenses ($313 million dollars in 2016), administrative expenses ($1.4 billion in 2016), etc, however, the info above should give you a good idea of where Las Vegas casino revenue and profits are coming from. What’s clear is that although money generated from gaming is important, it’s not the only show in town.

As MGM Resort’s hotels provide the second-largest profitability and revenue punch I thought it would be cool to take a look at which of their Vegas properties command the highest rates and sport the highest occupancy.

There are 3 main terms you will want to know:

  • Occupancy Rate – What percentage of rooms were occupied.
  • ADR – Average Daily Rate – What did people pay on average per night.
  • REVPAR – Revenue per Available Room – What the average nightly revenue was per room available (whether occupied or not). Basically, your nightly hotel revenue divided by total # of rooms.

Not surprisingly, Bellagio topped MGM’s charts for Average Daily Rate in 2016 at $278. Bellagio was also 91% occupied and had a Revenue per available room of $246 per night.

Circus Circus came in with the lowest Average Daily Rate at $83 and was 81.6% occupied. CC Las Vegas had a Revenue per available room of $68.

New York-New York notched the highest occupancy of MGM’s casino/hotel portfolio at 95.1% occupancy with an ADR of $141.

According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, it’s important to keep Gamblers captive overnight as in 2016 guests drove the following average revenue per room daily (all Vegas casinos – not just MGM):

Pit Revenue: $96.48

Slot Revenue: $105.83

Food Sales: $98.11

Beverage Sales: $43.73

In summation, it’s clear that Casino revenues in Las Vegas are king but there are other key drivers of resort profitability to include entertainment options, dining along with the property’s hotel. These fringe services are becoming a more important piece of the profitability picture as Millenials shy away from gambling and seek “experiences”. More properties are getting creative with revenue drivers and rightfully so. For instance, you can now hunt zombies in Virtual Reality at the MGM Grand or play Twilight Zone Mini Golf at Bally’s. You also can’t walk 15 feet in Vegas without tripping over a damn zipline attraction.

Gambling will remain the core but there is certainly a shift in Vegas toward new and innovative dining and entertainment options.

On a final and unrelated note, as of the end of 2016, MGM logged an “Outstanding Chip Liability” of over $227 million. Which one of you guys is hoarding all the chips? Cash those bastards in!

Check out our other piece – Could Circus Circus be the next Las Vegas implosion?

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