Las Vegas casinos face a difficult recovery if they can't lure visitors to their resorts, and the latest data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority indicates the Strip is still a ghost town.

December visits to Las Vegas plunged 64% from the year-ago period. And in a sign that the spike in coronavirus cases at the end of last year chased consumers away, visits were down 17.6% from November. The authority also noted there was zero convention business (there hasn't been any since April, when the city was shut down).

Downtown Las Vegas district

Image source: Getty Images.

MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) managed to post fourth-quarter results on Wednesday that beat analyst expectations on the top and bottom lines, but the numbers were still down significantly from a year ago. It recorded a $0.90 per share adjusted loss, better than the $0.98 per share Wall Street projected, but it was a dramatic reversal from the $0.08 per share profit it notched a year ago.

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) are much less dependent on Las Vegas than MGM, deriving most of their revenue and earnings from Macao, but that market is ailing, too.

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) is another casino operator with a major presence in Las Vegas, and it last reported earnings in November, suffering a 34% decline in revenue. But having completed its merger with Eldorado Resorts, it now has greater exposure to the regional casino market.

Casino operators have been opening their hotels on a limited basis, but occupancy rates are still in decline, falling below 31% in December, which was down 54% from 2019 and 8% below November's rate. That's driven revenue per available room to around $31, a 71% plunge from last year.

Las Vegas hosted just over 19 million visitors in 2020, down 55% from 2019.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.