It’s no great secret that many consider Las Vegas is at its best during a championship prize fight weekend. Now there are some numbers and research to back this observation up.
A research report released by ITG Investment Research, a New York, N.Y.-based independent execution broker and research provider, analyzed the exceptionally strong game usage trends during the Mayweather versus Pacquiao boxing match, held the weekend of May1-3. Based on proprietary data, the research finds that the overall effect of the fight was highly positive for the Las Vegas casino properties, but the host, MGM Resorts International, was the main beneficiary of what was a stellar weekend for gaming demand.
The ITG report, which uses data from a number of ITG Investment Research’s proprietary sources, found that overall Strip game usage jumped 18 percent during the fight weekend versus the same weekend last year while game usage in MGM’s Strip properties increased 28 percent. Continuing this trend, overall Strip game occupancy (game usage as a percentage of total game capacity) jumped 365 bps year over year (Y/Y) to 24 percent while MGM’s Strip properties showed an increase of 668 bps to 42.2 percent
Gaming revenues were likely even stronger than the raw data suggests, according to Matthew Jacob, senior consumer analyst at ITG Investment Research. Jacob believes that high-end play, which is not generally fully captured by a simple analysis of Y/Y game usage metrics, was substantial over the weekend, driven by a number of factors including MGM’s allocation of 40 percent of the tickets to the fight, which allowed the company to invite and host its most valuable gaming customers.
Although the Strip sports books see significantly more action because of a high-profile sporting event like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao—and the fight was expected to set boxing handle records—the revenue earned (or lost) by the sports books for these events is not very meaningful. For example, the Nevada sports books collectively won just $3.3 million from this year’s Super Bowl. The fight’s true value to the Strip was its ability to drive significantly stronger gaming activity across casino floors during the weekend.
In addition, the high prices for flight tickets, closed-circuit feeds and hotel rooms also led to very high gaming visitor quality across the Strip. Notably, MGM management mentioned on its May 4th earnings call that more than 500 private planes were received at Las Vegas McCarran airport in comparison with the previous record (set during this year’s Super Bowl) of about 350.
Despite the significant boost provided by the fight, the Super Bowl remains the marquee event for driving game usage in Las Vegas. Overall Strip game usage during the fight weekend was about 14 percent below the Super Bowl weekend levels this year. It was also about 13 percent – 14 percent below the average Super Bowl weekend game usage levels over the last 20 years.