Table games continue comeback

Aug 9, 2005 3:53 AM

The early returns are in for casino operations at Wynn Las Vegas and they are at once impressive and revealing.

For its first 64 days of operation, the casino generated a win of $98.7 million. Slots produced revenues of $34.2 million with a win of $273 per slot per day. Table games raked in $62 million or about $7,117 per day, which represents a hold of about 21 percent.

These figures translate to a table game win of about 64.4 percent of casino revenue and a slot win of 35.6 percent.

It’s also been reported that dealers averaged about $373 a day in tips, which is double the tip revenue for many Strip casinos.

While the figures underscore the high-end nature of the casino games at Wynn Las Vegas, they also reveal a trend that has been crystallizing for the past 18 months: there has been a revival of table games in Strip casinos.

According to Nevada gaming revenue statistics, slot machines reached the peak of their popularity in 2003, when machine revenue accounted for 67 percent of all casino revenue.

Since then, table games have increased their share of the revenue pie, increasing from about 33 percent to 35 percent of a casino’s total win.

The resurgence in the popularity of table games can be linked to a number of factors, including the introduction of popular new games, such as Three Card Poker and 3-5-7 Poker, and the dissatisfaction with uninspiring slot machines.

But most important has been the expanding popularity of poker, which has been fueled by television shows that glamorize high-stakes poker.

"Television has generated a national awareness of poker, which has translated into new customers, many of whom are younger players," said Ted Gottlieb, the creator of casino Win Cards, pocket-sized aids to games like blackjack, craps and roulette.

Gottlieb next month will serve on a panel of experts who will discuss The Revival of Table Games at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas.

He said moving from the poker room to the pit is a natural transition for players.

"The kids under 35 don’t want to do what their parents did, and their parents played the slots," Gottlieb said. "So it’s safe to say the revival of table games has been fueled by younger players."

He added that casinos must learn to "cross-market" their table games through colorful signage or incentives such as offering free Win Cards to casino customers and providing daily lessons on how to play the games.

"Casinos today are offering fewer table game lessons than they did 10 years ago," Gottlieb said. "The industry has become passive if not negligent in marketing their table games.

"Casinos need to become more proactive," he said. "They could feature low-limit tables near the poker room, which, no matter how popular they’ve become, are still ”˜loss leaders’ for the casino."