Gaming revenues continue to climb

Dec 13, 2005 3:05 AM

Nevada casinos enjoyed a solid October as revenues increased by double digits in nearly every category over last year’s revenue.

Statewide, casinos raked in $1.058 billion, a healthy 14.4 percent over the win amount for October 2004.

In Las Vegas, Strip gaming revenue enjoyed a 14.5 percent increase to $563.5 million, marking the sixth straight month of double-digit gains.

Both slot and table win on the Las Vegas Strip were strong in October, increasing by 19.1 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.

While the Strip casinos fared well, the "locals" casinos actually did better. Casinos along the Boulder Strip won $77.8 million, a 35.1 percent increase over last October’s revenue, while North Las Vegas casinos posted a win amount of $25.4 million, a 32.7 percent year-over-year increase.

Casinos in downtown Las Vegas enjoyed solid gains, though not as dramatic as other venues. Downtown gambling halls took in $60.7 million, a respectable 4.8 percent increase over the previous year’s revenue.

The October gaming revenue was even more impressive since the calendar was "unfavorable" with nine weekend days this year versus 10 in 2004.

A closer look at gaming revenue in various categories reveal some interesting trends. Sports betting across the board increased 26.7 percent in October to $44.3 million, while pari-mutuel betting was somewhat stagnant at $9.3 million, down 2.4 percent from last October.

As expected, baseball culminated an outstanding season with a win of $8.6 million in October, a whopping 61 percent increase over last year. For the season, baseball took in $26.5 million, an incredible increase of 186 percent over 2004.

Football, however, remains king in the sports book, where players bet $30.3 million in October, a 24.4 percent increase over last year’s action.

In the casino, most of the major table games in Nevada — craps, roulette, 3-Card Poker and baccarat — enjoyed increasing win amounts of 20.4 percent, 12.1 percent, 9.1 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

The notable exception was blackjack, which actually posted a decline in revenue of 2.3 percent to $92.5 million.

It is noteworthy that the drop in blackjack revenue could represent the start of a trend. Over the past five years, blackjack revenue in Nevada reached a peak of $1.212 billion in fiscal 2004.

But last year, blackjack revenue slumped to $1.169 billion, a slide of 3.6 percent.

Among a group of casino supervisors polled by GamingToday, several complained that some blackjack customers are being lost to the poker room.

In addition, the advent of electronic blackjack tables in some locations, which track player’s bets as well as their betting habits, may have had a negative impact on "serious" blackjack players, that is, those who attempt to count cards.

"After you’ve played a series of hands, the computer will evaluate your play, keep track of how you bet, when you hit, how much you hit with and whether the deck was ”˜positive’ or ”˜negative,’" said a professional blackjack player who asked his name be withheld. "Once the machine figures out what you’re doing, it will alert the dealer who will probably start shuffling earlier than he ordinarily would. It makes winning very difficult."

So far, there are only a handful of the "smart" tables currently in operation, though they are slowly finding their way into casinos outside of Nevada.

GT will look more closely at the decline of blackjack in next week’s issue.