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Best of Chris Sieroty

Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty
 

Nevada gaming revenues up 6.1 percent to $855.7 million in April

13 June 2012

Nevada gambling revenues rose more than 6.1 percent in April, to $855.7 million, compared with the same month last year, the state Gaming Control Board announced Tuesday.

The single-digit increase was a return to the plus side after a 10.8 percent decline in March.

The state posted revenue increases of 5.7 percent in February and 18.4 percent in January, according to figures compiled by Nevada gaming regulators.

Analysts described the results as mixed, with high-end games returning strong results while table games and slots that appeal to a mass market were down for the month.

"This trend should benefit Las Vegas Strip gaming operators that cater to baccarat play, including Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and some of the high-end MGM properties and Caesars Palace," said Bill Lerner, an analyst with Union Gaming Group in Las Vegas.

Lerner said he expects growth in "high-end play" to continue into next month's May results, while May's strong event calendar should bolster mass market results."

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said results were mixed among the state's gaming centers in April, with the majority of revenue gains posted in Southern Nevada. The Strip's total was $459.3 million, up 7.45 percent from April 2011.

"The strength on the Strip stemmed largely from an increase in table hold and baccarat drop," said Carlo Santarelli, an analyst with Deutsche Bank. He noted table hold was up 7.7 percent in April compared with 6.8 percent in the same month last year, while year-over-year baccarat drop was up 32.6 percent on the Strip.

Downtown Las Vegas reported a 24.99 percent increase in revenue, to $48.5 million, while North Las Vegas reported the largest increase at 42.3 percent, to $26.9 million, in April.

The Boulder Strip won $70.1 million, a 20.4 percent gain, while Laughlin reported $40 million, a 0.48 percent increase over the same month last year. Mesquite posted a 0.85 percent decline to $11 million, compared with April 2011.

Overall, Clark County reported an 8.8 percent revenue increase, to $743.6 million.

Casinos in Northern Nevada, which compete with California's Native American casinos, didn't fare as well.

Washoe County, which includes Reno and Sparks, posted $54.1 million in gaming revenues, a 15.4 percent decline. North Lake Tahoe reported a 15.8 percent decline, to $1.6 million, while South Lake Tahoe was off 4.4 percent, to $13.7 million.

"We view these results as being largely in line with expectations for the month and a continuation of volatile, though directionally favorable, trends," Santarelli said. "We note that the calendar in April was unfavorable with two less weekend days, though revenue accounting in the month, given the March ending, was a benefit."

State officials collected $48.5 million in taxes based on the April winnings, a 13.9 percent increase from the same month last year.

Total slot machine revenue in Nevada was $586.9 million, a 9.7 percent increase from April 2011. The state's numbers from table games were off 0.66 percent in April, to $259.6 million.

Baccarat, the game favored by high-end international gamblers, reported a 14.8 percent increase in revenues in April to $66.1 million. Baccarat hold was 10.1 percent, slightly below its normal hold of 11.5 percent.

Lerner said the "strong baccarat numbers assuage investor fears about a slowdown in China negatively impacting high-end domestic play."

Revenues for blackjack were off 7.6 percent, while craps declined 1.6 percent in April. Smaller games, such as minibaccarat posted a 30.1 percent decline in April, while revenues for pai gow gained 554.2 percent.