Nevada revenues slip again

April 15, 2008 7:02 PM
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By David Stratton | There was no leap in February gaming revenues for Nevada casinos as gambling halls collectively won $1.01 billion, down nearly 4 percent from the same month last year.

The slump occurred despite a 29th day for the month, the reopening of Monte Carlo that had been closed by a fire, and high-profile events such as the Super Bowl, the Chinese New Year celebration and a three-day President’s Day holiday.

"We were disappointed but we can’t say it was unexpected," Gaming Control Board analyst Frank Streshley said in releasing the February win report last week. "It’s definitely a reflection of the soft economy and people tightening up their spending habits."

Coupled with a January slide of 4 percent, it was Nevada’s first monthly, back-to-back revenue decline in more than five years.

The February win brought the total win for the fiscal year to date to $8.54 billion. That’s only 0.2 percent more than the total for the same period in the previous fiscal year.

On a regional basis, most major markets in Nevada had lower wins compared with February 2007. That included the Las Vegas Strip, with a 3.1 percent slump; the Boulder Strip, down 14.1 percent; and North Las Vegas, down 13.3 percent.

Downtown casinos, surprisingly, held its own with a nominal 0.3 percent slide.

In northern Nevada, clubs in Reno were down 1.4 percent while resorts on Lake Tahoe’s south shore were down 7.5 percent. Elko County, in northeastern Nevada, was down 2.5 percent.

The win for the resorts brought the state’s tax take from the clubs to $570.9 million so far this fiscal year. That’s nearly $50 million, or 8 percent, below the amount predicted last spring by the state’s Economic Forum.

A breakdown showed that slots were down 2.1 percent in February, with the only bright spot being penny denomination games, which posted a 20.5 percent increase over last year. All other denomination games – except $25 slot machines and Megabucks (which is nearing the $20 million award) – had declining revenues. Multi-denomination games and $100 slots post virtually even year-over-year returns.

Table game revenue in Nevada slipped 6.9 percent in February. The only winners were roulette (up 20.8 percent) and bingo (up 74 percent), while baccarat and Caribbean Stud were virtually unchanged.

The state’s poker rooms raked $13.2 million, from players, a slight 0.1 percent increase over February 2007, but the win reversed a three-month slide of 3.4 percent.

Sports books actually lost $6.8 million in February, down 181.4 percent from a year ago. Powering the decline was a $15.7 million loss to football bettors.

Sports books last month reported a $2.5 million loss on the Super Bowl, which was compounded by losing future bets and other wagers that were placed in January and cashed by winners in February.

Parlay cards posted a $815,000 win in February, a 97 percent increase, which included a hold percentage of 29.1 percent.

"Win" is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. It represents casino revenue only, not hotel, restaurant or bar revenues.