Nevada gaming revenue
slips below $1B

Nov 14, 2006 4:41 AM

For only the second time in two years, Nevada gaming revenue in September failed to match the gaming win posted the same month a year ago.

In September, casino revenue or gross "win" reached $984.9 million, a 2.7 percent slide from the win recorded in September 2005.

Contributing to the decline was a lucky streak by gamblers, who did well at the blackjack tables and sports books, according to the Gaming Control Board.

"Casinos played very unlucky in mini baccarat, 21 and sports books," said Frank Streshley, senior research analysts for the Board.

The $113.5 million casinos won statewide at the blackjack tables was down 7.6 percent, or $9.4 million, from the amount won a year ago.

Even though the $265.8 million bet across the state in sports books was up 16 percent, the amount casinos "held" from those bets was down $5.8 million or 20.8 percent in the first month of the year for college and pro football betting. Sports pools brought in $22.4 million total, and $18.7 million from football.

Sports directors in Las Vegas told GamingToday that they’ve been winning football wagers and parlay cards in near-record numbers this season.

Only one week this season — in September — was a loser for sports books and players hit a high number of winning favorites.

Nevada race books also saw a modest decline in pari-mutuel handle, which was the sixth straight month of such decline.

A breakdown of the win revealed that slots raked in about $640.7 million or 65 percent of the total. Multi-denominational slots won about $278.8 million, up 16.4 percent from a year ago.

Because of the spreading popularity of multi-denomination slots, revenue continued to decline for fix slots in the 5¡, 25¡ and $1 denominations.

Penny slots, however, continue to spread across casino floors; September win was $110 million, up 30 percent.

Live table games and sports accounted for the remaining 35 percent of Nevada’s win or $344.3 million. Of that, $40.7 million was won on craps tables, down 1.5 percent; $28.7 million on roulette, up 9.3 percent; and $12.6 million at the poker tables, up 11.2 percent.

Even though poker rooms posted a nice gain in September, revenue appears to be peaking as the number of poker rooms and tables seems to have caught up with player demand. In August, the year-over-year increase in poker win was 17.7 percent and more than 24 percent in July.

The difference is also reflected in the amount won per poker table. In September, the average table raked about $13,000, which was down from the $15,000 raked in August and $17,700 raked in July.

Regionally, the Las Vegas Strip led the charge with a win of $516.4 million, down 4.3 percent from last September. Downtown Las Vegas casinos posted an 8,4 percent decline, the fourth straight month of diminishing revenue.

Reno casino revenue was down 1.1 percent to $69.9 million, while Sparks casinos grew revenue 2.2 percent to $15.97 million.

September had one more Saturday during the month in 2006.

Some markets might be reporting lower revenue because the month ended on a weekend and casinos might not have counted the cash until Monday, meaning the October revenue figures could get a bump from the accounting anomaly, Streshley said.

Analyst Adam Steinberg with Morgan Joseph in New York, who follows casino companies across the state, said in an investors report that the Las Vegas locals market is starting to feed off itself, contributing to the lackluster statewide revenue.

"The locals market reported solid gains, as would be expected given the addition of (Station Casinos’) Red Rock and South Coast (now Michael Gaughan’s South Point)," Steinberg said. "However, we continue to believe these two properties are cannibalizing from the older Las Vegas locals properties."

He noted that Boulder Strip and North Las Vegas casino revenue was down for the month.