Billions of dollars flow through the Las Vegas Strip every year and casino companies do everything they can to get customers to part with as much money as possible. They offer gambling, nightclubs, restaurants, and hotel rooms, all in an effort to get you to spend more during your stay.

But who makes the most money in Las Vegas and where does the money come from? The answer might surprise you.

Rows of casino slot machines

Image source: Getty Images.

The most profitable resort in Las Vegas
Las Vegas' most profitable resort isn't located in the heart of The Strip where thousands of visitors walk by everyday. It's actually Wynn Resorts' (NASDAQ:WYNN) namesake Wynn Las Vegas on the far north end of The Strip that earns the most money of any casino.

In gaming, when measuring cash flow we look at EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. This is a measure of cash flow from a resort, which is what really matters after you spend billions on construction.

You can see below that Wynn Las Vegas generated $528.2 million in EBITDA over the past year, outpacing neighboring Venetian and Palazzo, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) by a wide margin. Another Steve Wynn creation, Bellagio, which is owned by MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) comes in second in profitability but is over $100 million behind Wynn Las Vegas.

Source: Company SEC filings and earnings releases. 

What's incredible about Wynn Las Vegas is that it isn't reliant strictly on high rollers sitting at gaming tables for most of its revenue. Non-gaming activities accounted for 67% of the company's $1.66 billion in revenue in the last year, dominated by food and beverage revenue of $490 million. Day and nightclubs operations are also included in that figure and add over $150 million in revenue for Wynn Las Vegas, as I highlighted last year. Rooms generated another $403.3 million and entertainment venues like Le Reve generated $211.5 million. 

Where Wynn outshines competitors
Not only does Wynn Las Vegas make more than any other resort on nightclubs, it does everything just a little better than competitors. You can see below that it commands higher daily room rates than Venetian and Palazzo and nearly double MGM Grand. Table game and slot win per unit is also higher. MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment don't break down table and slot play per casino but we can assume they generate less than Wynn given the lower EBITDA. 


Average Daily Room Rate

Table Game Win/Day

Slot Machine Win/Day

Wynn Las Vegas




Venetian and Palazzo




MGM Grand




Source: Company earnings releases.

If you listen to Steve Wynn talk about building a casino, he reinforces it's the design of the entire resort that leads to this performance. It's sight lines, material textures, performances, architecture, and every other decision that goes into building a great resort. This attention to detail is why Bellagio is still one of The Strip's top performing resorts over 16 years after Wynn completed it. 

How long can Wynn stay on top?
Wynn Las Vegas will likely hold the crown for most money made at a Las Vegas resort for at least another few years, until neighboring projects from James Packer of Crown Resorts and Genting Group are constructed. But even then Wynn may end up a winner. 

If the planned resorts are complete, it could even bring more traffic to the north side, meaning more customers for Wynn Las Vegas. But with both projects delayed, the resort will likely stay on top for the foreseeable future. 

What will drive Las Vegas Strip profits in the future?
For years now, Las Vegas has been moving away from being a town reliant strictly on gambling. Resorts have built plush hotel rooms, improved food and beverage offerings, built high-end shops, and brought in some of the best entertainers in the world. All of these offerings drive up the importance of activities off the gaming floor.

So, it should be no surprise that the casino that makes the most money in Las Vegas also does the most with its non-gaming space. Steve Wynn has certainly excelled at making money in Las Vegas and after building Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio, and he finally perfected his formula with Wynn Las Vegas.

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.