Nevada gambling revenues in free fall

Oct 13, 2009 5:10 PM
by David Stratton |

But baccarat and penny slots post gains

Nevada gambling revenues continued their slide in August and, while some analysts were encouraged by just a single-digit decline, comparisons are now being made with numbers that were depressed a year ago.

Casino revenues of $847 million reported in August were down 9.3 percent from the $934 million won in August 2008, according to the Gaming Control Board’s latest revenue report.

But gaming win a year ago was down 8.1 percent from the previous year. Without that drop-off, August revenues would have been down 16.6 percent.

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For the year to date, Nevada casinos have won $6.939 billion, a 12.9 percent decline from the $7.967 billion they won during the first eight months of 2008.

August also marked the 20th straight month of declining revenues.

Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, which account for more than half of the state’s total revenue, reported revenues of $449 million in August, down 9 percent from a year ago. Downtown casinos won $41.9 million, 3.8 percent less than a year ago.

Visitor volume to Las Vegas in August, however, was down only 3.7 percent, indicating tourists are still coming to Las Vegas, but they simply aren’t gambling as much. For the first eight months of 2009, visitor volume was 24.4 million, about 5.8 percent less than last year.

All of the casinos in Southern Nevada (Clark County) reported gaming revenues of $708 million, a 6.7 percent drop-off from last year.

"Locals" oriented casinos, however, reported revenue increases. Gaming revenue along the Boulder Strip was up 21 percent to $63.4 million, while casinos in North Las Vegas won $22.1 million, a 22 percent increase from a year ago.

Casinos in Northern Nevada, which have been impacted by the expansion of casino gaming in Northern California, reported larger deficits. Washoe County, which includes the Reno area casinos, posted revenues of $73.8 million, a 21 percent decline from a year ago.

Nearly every segment of Nevada casinos suffered double digit declines in August. Table game revenue was down 11 percent, though it could have been worse if it weren’t for baccarat, which posted a healthy increase of 48 percent to $109 million.

Blackjack win statewide was off 23 percent while craps generated 47 percent less than a year ago.

The state’s poker rooms, which had held their own for most of 2009, saw their rake – the amount withheld from every pot – slip 14.7 percent to $11.1 million in August.

The state’s 170,000 slot machines won $549 million from players, down 8.3 percent from a year ago. Only penny and $100 denomination slots won more this year, 5.3 percent and 33.5 percent, respectively.

The state’s 183 sports books reported winning $4.8 million from gamblers, about 38 percent less than a year ago, despite a nearly 80 percent increase in baseball win.

Pre-season NFL football and early college football games generated $2.1 million, a 67 percent drop from last year.

Pari-mutuel race betting continued its monthly slide as revenues were off 21 percent to $5.6 million.

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