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Gaming Guru

Cy Ryan
 

Gaming Win Inches Up

10 December 2003

CARSON CITY, Nevada -- Nevada casinos reported they won $819.4 million in October, a modest 1.5 percent increase but the second straight month of higher gross revenue, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

While slot machine winnings were off, table game revenue rose, the state Gaming Control Board reported today. And there's been a rebirth in poker play in the casinos.

But there were soft spots in the industry. Revenue was down in casinos on the Boulder Strip, downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas compared to the same month of a year ago.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said he was concerned that gaming revenue is lagging behind the rest of Nevada's economy.

"Fiscal year-to-date gaming win has increased 1.2 percent over last year," he said in a statement accompanying the monthly board report.

"To meet our projections for the fiscal year, gaming will have to post strong sustained growth for the remainder of the year."

Despite Guinn's cautioning statement, tax collections from casinos are running 4.8 percent above the projections of the Economic Forum this fiscal year. These forecasts are used to build the state's budget.

So far this fiscal year, the casinos have paid $274 million in taxes compared to the $261.6 million forecast by the Economic Forum.

Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the control board, said it was "not a great month." He said that although winnings from table games rose 5 percent, the state had expected more because of the Holyfield-Toney fight at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino in Las Vegas in early October, especially from baccarat.

Streshley said slot machine revenue fell by 0.2 percent statewide. But winnings from the 21 games rose 19.3 percent; craps was up 25 percent; roulette fell 17.2 percent, baccarat dropped 12.2 percent and the sports books were off 48 percent.

Streshley said the reason for the decline in the sports books is they paid off wagers made in previous months.

He said there's been a revival in the poker games during the last two or three months. He said winnings reached $5.9 million, up 32.6 percent from a year ago. He attributed this to the popularity on television of the World Series of Poker on ESPN and the World Poker Tournament shown on the Travel Channel.

In addition, he said more people are playing poker online.

Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip posted $408.9 million in winnings, counted before taxes and business expenses. That's a 3.49 percent increase over October 2002 and it comes after a 7.7 percent increase in September. And it compares to a strong 10 percent increase in winnings in October 2002.

The board said winnings from table games on the Strip increased by 8 percent but slot revenue was flat. Casinos reported a 33.6 percent increase in 21; a 43.2 percent jump in craps; a 21.9 percent decline in Roulette; a 103 percent drop in the sports book and a 12.2 percent drop in baccarat.

For the second straight month, downtown Las Vegas casinos reported a drop in gaming win. These clubs recorded $57.7 million, down 0.06 percent. Slot winnings rose 0.1 percent but table games declined 1.9 percent.

After four straight months of double digit increases, casinos in North Las Vegas posted a decline of 4.6 percent with revenue of $18.1 million. Slot win was off 7.7 percent but revenue from table games jumped 20.5 percent

The board said clubs along the Boulder Strip recorded $53.8 million, down 12.2 percent. This comes after two months of double digit increases. Slot win was off 13.3 percent and table winnings fell 7 percent.

Clubs in Laughlin rebounded from September to report $46.9 million in gaming win, an increase of 3.3 percent. Revenue in September had fallen 0.4 percent. Slot win in October was up 4.6 percent but gaming revenue fell 5.2 percent.

For the third straight month, casinos in the remainder of Clark County registered higher gross win. The board said they won $69.9 million, up 4.5 percent over October 2002. Slot win rose 4 percent and table win was off 7.6 percent.

Mesquite clubs won $9.7 million, an increase of 3.4 percent. Table games fell by 7.9 percent but slot win rose 5.2 percent.

After three straight months of declining win, Washoe County clubs were able to break even and even report a small increase. The board said they won $89.6 million, a gain of 0.9 percent. Streshley said this was the first gain since the June opening of the Thunder Valley Indian Casino in Auburn, Calif., near Sacramento that is siphoning off trade from the Reno area.

South Lake Tahoe casinos registered $26.7 million in winnings, up 3.7 percent. Revenue in September was down 4.1 percent at South Lake Tahoe.

For the sixth straight month, Carson Valley clubs enjoyed increased gross win. The board said revenue reached $9 million, up 9.6 percent. That's the biggest percentage gain since the 11.8 percent posted in February 2002.

Winnings in Elko County casinos fell by 5.9 percent to $18.2 million. It was the second straight month of a decline.