Casinos find 2004 a (mostly) good year

Feb 22, 2005 7:19 AM

The recently-released Nevada gaming revues of $10.5 billion in 2004 set a new record for the state. More importantly, the figures reveal key trends in the state’s casinos.

Slot machines continue to supply the fuel that powers the state’s casinos. Last year, machines raked in $7.1 billion in revenue, a whopping 9.6 percent more than they won in 2003.

Table games accounted for $3.2 billion, about 9 percent more than they won the previous year.

What’s particularly revealing is the respective percentages of total revenue. Last year, slots accounted for a solid 67 percent of total revenue; it won 67.7 percent of the total in 2003.

And table games garnered 30 percent of casinos’ total revenue for the past two years.

"We’ve seen a stabilization of the trend toward table game play," says a Strip casino manager. "While some casinos such as Caesars Palace and MGM Grand win more at the tables than on the slot floor, most gambling halls are still highly dependent on slot play."

The year also saw advances in poker revenue, and some erosion of race and sports betting.

In 2004, poker rooms generated $98.8 million in revenue, a 44.8 percent increase over the $63 million generated in 2003. Poker revenue comes from seat rentals — players bet against each other rather than the house.

In order to keep up with the growing demand for poker games, casinos added 101 tables last year, bringing the statewide total to 484 tables.

While poker remains strong, it generates less than 1 percent of a casino’s total revenue.

Race and sports books lost a little ground in 2004. Bookies statewide won $203 million, a 2.8 percent slide from the $209 million won in 2003.

Other noteworthy trends:

”¡ Bingo rebounded from a dismal 2003 with a 173 percent increase in revenue to $6.8 million.

”¡ Baccarat also made substantial gains, winning $497 million in 2004, a 35 percent increase over 2003.