Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
NEVADA -- September's slew of major college football upsets gave casino operators something to smile about.
Helped along by a 106 percent increase in revenues generated by sports books, Nevada casinos won $1.058 billion in September, a 7.45 percent increase compared with $984.9 million won in September 2006. On the Strip, casinos collected $551.9 million from gamblers, 6.9 percent more than $516.3 million won a year ago.
The monthly statistics were released by the Gaming Control Board Friday. Gross gaming revenues reflect money collected before any expenses are deducted, including taxes, payroll, expenses and operational costs.
The casino win report was welcome news for state government officials who are planning for 5 percent budget reductions because of concerns that combined state revenues could be at least $286 million under projections at the end of the current budget cycle, in June 2009.
Declining sales taxes have been cited by Gov. Jim Gibbons as the key reason for the concern. A recent report showed that Nevada merchants' sales were off 5.7 percent in August. Also in August, the casino win was down 4.4 percent. Taxes based on sales and casino activity are the state's two largest revenue sources. The casino industry is facing two potential ballot initiatives being floated by a Las Vegas attorney and the state teachers union to raise the gaming tax from its current level of 6.75 percent.
The state collected gaming taxes of $74.3 million from September's casino win, up 26.5 percent from a year ago. For the first four months of the fiscal year, gaming tax collections are 4.4 percent higher than 2006. But the total is still a less than 1 percent difference from the forecast submitted in May by the state's Economic Forum.
Last week, Gibbons met with a contingent of legislators and local politicians to look at ways of cutting state government spending. Three weeks ago Gibbons asked selected state agencies to prepare lists of how they would cut their spending a combined $184 million because of projected budget shortfalls.
"While the numbers (from the September gaming win) are encouraging, we continue to plan for potential shortfalls," Gibbons' press secretary, Melissa Subbotin, said Friday.
Frank Streshley, the control board's senior research analyst, said Nevada casinos also contributed $11 million to state coffers in September through the live entertainment tax, up 9.4 percent from a year ago.
Money retained by sports books from losing gamblers in September helped casinos offset a 23.1 percent decrease in the win coming from baccarat tables during the month.
Upsets, such as Oregon's win over Michigan, defending national champion Florida's loss to Auburn, Colorado beating Oklahoma, and Kansas State's victory over Texas meant casinos kept the wagers made by gamblers. Traditional fan favorite and often heavily wagered Notre Dame didn't win a game in September.
In total, Nevada sports books had revenues of $44.9 million, compared with $22.5 million last year. Almost 95 percent of the revenues were generated by football wagering on both college and NFL games.
"It was a really good month for the sports books," Streshley said. "The first full month of the football season played lucky to the casinos."
September's gaming win was helped along in several ways. Because August ended on a Friday, slot machine revenues increased because of how some casinos account for the wagers. Money gambled at the end of the month often falls into September's revenue figures. Also, September 2006, which reported total gaming revenues nearly 3 percent below the same month in 2005, became soft by comparison.
"September also ended on a Sunday, so that was a factor," Streshley said.
Statewide, revenues from slot machines totaled $709.3 million, a 10.7 percent increase, while revenues generated by table games was $336.5 million, up 1.5 percent. Gamblers wagered $13.8 billion in the month, $11.4 billion on slot machines and $2.4 billion on table games.
Wagering on baccarat jumped 5.8 percent, with gamblers betting $414.7 million at the tables. But casinos held just $45.9 million, a 23 percent decline from a year ago.
For the first nine months of 2007, the state gaming win is up 2.8 percent over 2006; the win on the Strip is up 3.4 percent. The Economic Forum predicted that the state should collect some $860 million in gaming tax revenues this year.
Downtown casinos recorded their third straight month of increased gaming revenues, collecting $53.3 million, up 12.5 percent compared with $47.4 million last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.