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U.S. casino revenues falling like dominoes

Dec 23, 2008 5:03 PM
by David Stratton |

As noted earlier this month, Nevada casinos suffered their worst ever year-over-year decline in October as gaming revenues plummeted 22 percent.

Over the past two weeks, most (but not all) U.S. jurisdictions reported similar fiscal results for the month of November.

The other major casino market, Atlantic City, reported a 7.8 percent revenue decline, slightly lower than the 9.9 percent drop for October, but a notable improvement from September’s 15.1 percent plunge.

Nonetheless, the trend virtually assures a second straight year of declining revenues for Atlantic City casinos.

Overall, casino win from slots and table games was $345.5 million. Six casinos saw double-digit declines, while only two managed revenue increases over last year.

There were actually two jurisdictions that actually enjoyed a revenue increase. Louisiana casinos, helped by a boost from an extra weekend, saw winnings from gamblers increase 6 percent in November from a year ago.

The state’s 13 riverboats, Harrah’s New Orleans and the four slot casinos at race tracks took in under $214.9 million, up from $202.8 million in November 2007.

And Pennsylvania, which continues to add slot machines to its slot parlors, recorded a 45.4 percent increase from $90.2 million last year to $131.2 million in November.

Here’s a recap of the other major U.S. casino markets:

• Connecticut: The state’s two casinos reported slot revenue declines of 6.3 percent in November. Foxwoods had a slot win of $54.5 million, down 7.6 percent from a year ago; Mohegan Sun posted a 5.2 percent decrease to $66.8 million.

• Iowa: Gaming revenue for November decreased only 0.2 percent, as table game revenue slipped 6.5 percent and slot revenue increased 5 percent. Racinos in the state reported a revenue decrease of 1.2 percent, while the Iowa riverboat market increased 0.3 percent.

• Florida: The state’s racinos reported revenues of $16.3 million in November, down 14.3 percent from the same month last year. The figures don’t include revenue from the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, which isn’t required to report revenues because it is a tribal casino.

• Indiana: Casino revenue in November increased 11.6 percent by virtue of two new properties that opened in June 2008. When you take them out of the equation, same store revenue actually fell 2.9 percent. Table game revenues decreased 1.4 percent while slot revenue increased 15.1 percent.

• West Virginia: Slot revenue at the state’s race track racinos slipped 8.8 percent in November. Note that Mountaineer Casino and Wheeling Downs will soon have table games to help them compete.

• Delaware: Gaming revenue in November was down 7.2 percent compared to a year ago. Of the state’s three properties, Harrington performed best as it was down only 0.1 percent.

• Colorado: Casinos took a big hit in November as revenues fell 15 percent. The effects of the recession were compounded by a smoking ban enacted earlier this year.

But extending casino operations to 24 hours a day (from 18 hours) and raising the maximum bet from $5 to $100 is expected to benefit casinos.

• Rhode Island: Slot machine revenue was down 1.2 percent in November at the state’s two slot parlors, even though Twin River recorded an increase of 1.2 percent based on added machines.

In New Jersey, casinos are hopeful weekend rail service between New York City and Atlantic City will help business.

After seeing their profits dip dramatically over the last six months, Harrah’s Entertainment. Inc., Boyd Gaming and MGM MIRAGE have decided to start a weekend train service – the Atlantic City Express Service – between New York City and Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The new express service is scheduled to begin Feb. 6.

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