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Room Boom

Jun 12, 2001 11:23 AM

One of the most obvious statistics that emerged from a recent 20-year study of Nevada’s northern and southern gaming markets was the correlation between rooms and gaming win: More rooms mean more revenues.

In a study conducted by Donald McGhie’s McGhie Consulting of Reno, gaming win for Washoe County (which includes Reno) for the period from 1981 to 2000 was relatively flat while Clark County (which includes Las Vegas) grew tremendously. At the beginning of the period, Washoe’s gaming revenues were in the $600 million range and grew to $1.14 billion over the next two decades. However, the growth in Clark County resulted in gaming win increasing from $1.7 billion to $7.6 billion.

And rooms made the difference.

During the study period, the number of rooms in Clark County increased from about 48,000 to 135,112. In Washoe, the room count rose from 20,500 to 28,174.

De-planing air passengers at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas increased from 4.4 million in 1981 to 18.4 million last year. No such growth was seen in Reno. There, air traffic rose from 1.8 million to 2.8 million.

As for highway traffic, "Of particular concern," said the report, "was the weakness in 2000 for both Interstate I-15 and I-80. Although both had increases, growth slowed from 6 percent in 1999 to 1 percent in 2000 on I-15, while traffic growth on I-80 heading to Reno fell to 4 percent from 7 percent."

McGhie said the lessening auto traffic could have been influenced by higher gasoline prices. It also could have been the result of new Indian casinos, particularly in California and Arizona.

One of the bright spots, said McGhie, was South Lake Tahoe, "which has shown a steady increase in win since 1997 of 20 percent." Of particular note, he said, was the table game revenue in the area, which "has been running parallel to slot machines after years of neglect." He said this was due partly to an increase in the quality of guests from Northern California who are attracted to the amenities at the Nevada properties.