Blackjack looking like the 2017 table games leader for Nevada

Blackjack looking like the 2017 table games leader for Nevada

July 11, 2017 3:11 AM


When analysts do their financial budgets and forecasts they like to study past results and look for trends that will give them some confidence in their assumptions on how much revenue will increase or decrease, adjusting of course for national or global direction.

Often though they only look at reported numbers and not what actually drove those numbers to see if those results are sustainable looking forward. In fairness because of the way numbers, particularly in Nevada Gaming, are reported it is very hard to get the story below the numbers. Most of the time when analysts study an industry like gaming the above described practices are “good enough” but the gaming industry is undergoing very unique changes making accurate forecasting a bit more challenging.

Competition, domestically and internationally, has never been greater and is only growing. Customer behaviors, particularly among the millennial generation, have not yet embraced traditional casino style gaming. Regulations and increased patron reporting requirements are chilling some patron activities, not that they have done anything improper, but very few people have any interest in drawing the attention of the IRS to themselves.

Motivation to gamble has changed; the desire for social experiences, even prices for all the retail activities in a resort impact the amount of money a customer even has for gambling. Against these changes the poor analysts are prone to simply take prior year results, add a few percent for inflation, adjust for any trends they perceive, declare their assumptions and leave it at that.

As such many gaming analysts have been optimistic that Baccarat, which was one of the few gaming areas that actually grew during the recession, would continue to reign supreme as the number one category of table games in 2017 for Nevada and more particularly Las Vegas. Alas, it looks as if this summer will show the passing of the crown to Blackjack.

Last year Baccarat enjoyed exceptionally strong results in both June and July from the extraordinary loose play of a mega-whale along with a few regular whales. This year, according to the aggregate comments of several gaming hosts and executives, the Las Vegas baccarat rooms in June have been very quite with no real signs of the flow changing in July or August.

Some industry analyst had projected Baccarat revenues for 2017 to come in somewhere between $1.25 billion and $1.5 billion but with the likely yet to be reported weak results for June and dismal short term outlook for Baccarat the range is more likely to end up being between $1 billion and $1.15 billion.

While Baccarat is in state of flux, Blackjack has re-emerged as the king of table games and appears to be one of the games the millennial generation will play. Blackjack remains a quick-to-learn game and because of its very nature fits in the niche of being a social game as well. Hard core blackjack players still prefer to play one-on-one against the house, but the millennial demographic tends to enjoy the social aspect of a full table, and they often add drinking games as side action to amuse the group during play (pending the dealing of certain cards or results, the table or individual player will do shots).

The same group of hosts and executives that shared their observations on Baccarat also pointed out that the blackjack tables seem to continue to grow in volume of players and June was no exception with the prospects for July seemingly strong as well. Some industry analysts had been projecting Blackjack revenue for 2017 to come in between the range of $1.15 billion and $1.25 billion. However, based on recent results and continuing trends Blackjack is shaping up to come in somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.35 billion for 2017, which if accurate will confirm the game’s return as the dominate table game in Nevada.

According to the Nevada gaming revenue reports for May, Blackjack had beat out Baccarat for the number one spot for both the month of May and the trailing three months ended May as well, which affirms the pace of the revised estimates and almost assures Blackjack will win the race against Baccarat. Though Baccarat seems headed to second place for 2017, gaming is a fickle world and all it would take is for one or two mega-whales or a group of 10 whales to have a bad run and the fates could almost instantly return Baccarat to number one. Till that happens though, welcome the return of Blackjack as King of the Nevada table games for 2017!