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Did The Las Vegas Grand Prix Meet Casino Earnings Expectations?

Written By Marc Meltzer on February 28, 2024
Logan Sargeant US Drives At 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix

When the Las Vegas Grand Prix F1 race was first announced in November 2023 the expectations were that it would be a boon for Las Vegas casinos. The thought was that cars would be zipping down the Vegas Strip at midnight while international fans were eating, drinking and gambling for all three days of race activities.

Now that the race is over and casinos have reported earnings, we can see if the results were as good as expected. For starters, in November Las Vegas gaming revenue was up more than 12%. The international visitors in town for the race helped boost baccarat revenue by 200% on the Vegas Strip.

There were fireworks throughout race weekend in Las Vegas – on and off the track. While there were some bumps in the road, the race itself seemed to be a success.

Some Las Vegas casino operators had high expectations for their company’s performance during the race. One company was so confident the race met those lofty expectations that its chief financial officer (CFO) said the company would break quarterly records before the three-month period was over.

Wynn giddy over fourth quarter, while others are muted

Las Vegas is a big little city with more than 100 casinos. The casinos owned by corporations on and around the Vegas Strip are the most well-known.

The casino operators that report earnings to the public had mixed responses. For example, Boyd Gaming, which operates casinos in downtown Las Vegas and around the Las Vegas Valley didn’t say a word about the F1 race since there was little to no effect.

Other casinos saw different results and shared their thoughts.

Wynn Resorts

Wynn Resorts reported record 2023 earnings for the full year and fourth quarter. The ADR (Average Daily Room Rate) for Wynn Las Vegas was $641 in the fourth quarter thanks, in part, to the F1 race. This rate was a massive 28% increase from 2022 when there was no F1 race in Las Vegas.

Before the race Wynn CEO Craig Billings thought Wynn customers were also F1 fans. This was confirmed after the race. Billings said:

“I think what this year approved is that the core contingent of people that travel to go to an F1 race is our customer.”

MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts’ Q4 2023 marked a 22% increase in earnings. However, the Las Vegas segment was up just 3% for the period.

During the earnings call, Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and president of MGM Resorts, said the race “was actually a $70 million increase year over year.”

While there was a financial increase the event didn’t seem to have the impact across the board that the company was hoping. Most of the revenue was generated at MGM Resorts’ luxury properties.

Caesars

Caesars expected a modest 5% lift in quarterly earnings in Las Vegas from the F1 race. The company fell short, saying it saw a 4% lift during Caesars’ Q4 2023 earnings call.

Like MGM Resorts, Caesars saw an uptick in business at its luxury casinos on the Vegas Strip. Both companies are also taking notes on what worked and didn’t work as Las Vegas prepares for another F1 night race in November 2024.

Expect cheaper race tickets and hotel rooms for 2024 LVGP

While the LVGP was a success for some casino operators, not all Las Vegas businesses saw a positive impact from the race. KVVU is reporting that some Las Vegas businesses are preparing to sue F1 for the adverse effects of the race.

All casino operators in the area are noting what strategy worked and didn’t, leading up to and during the LVGP. Despite just missing projections, Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said, “I’d expect it to be even better in 2024.”

During Wynn’s earnings call, Wynn CEO Craig Billings took a moment to acknowledge that not all businesses benefited the way his did:

“I do think that there’s a lot that can be done to make the event more relevant for the town more broadly. And I think that F1 understands that. And I think, frankly, the operators in town understand that.”

MGM’s Hornbuckle hinted that the company is preparing to normalize some hotel room rates for the 2024 race weekend, saying:

“(T)he South Strip, in particular, we would treat that probably more like a normal weekend going forward because of the lack of activation there.”

Caesars had a similar experience. Reeg said: “It was a huge lift for the high-end properties in the market, as you’ve seen, including Caesars Palace and Paris for us, it was less so for mass market properties.”

It seems as though both large Vegas Strip casino operators will keep mid-tier hotel room rates in November closer to normal. Boyd and Station Casinos appear to be taking a similar attitude toward the race.

Expect to see all properties come back to normal for the 2024 race. Luxury hotels will charge a lot and every other property will be in line with their normal rates.

Room rates aren’t the only change before the 2024 Las Vegas Grand Prix

Hotel room rates should return closer to normal at most Las Vegas casinos for the 2024 LVGP. That’s just the beginning of the changes.

It also seems there will be more affordable race ticket prices this year. This is still up in the air as LVGP organizers haven’t yet released ticket prices.

Once again, the race will take place well after sundown in Las Vegas. The 2024 LVGP will start at 10 p.m. and end around midnight on Nov. 23.

Practice and qualifying times for the race will take place at a different time this year:

Thurs. Nov. 21

  • Practice 1: 6:30 p.m.
  • Practice 2: 10 p.m.

Fri. Nov. 22

  • Practice 3: 6:30 p.m.
  • Qualifying: 10 p.m.

Visitors and locals alike will be happy to hear that it will take much less time to set up for the 2024 LVGP. Las Vegas casino operators aren’t the only people who learned from the first year of the race.

Organizers say there’s much less road paving needed for the track this year. The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that it will only take three months to set up and break down the LVGP circuit this year.

This isn’t much of a surprise. The three-month timeframe is much more in line with how long it takes F1 to set up street courses outside of Las Vegas.

Marc Meltzer Avatar
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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