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Arnold M. Knightly

NEVADA ECONOMY: Gaming win rises in July

14 September 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- An accounting quirk and a little luck helped push Nevada casinos to report the highest-ever one-month gaming win total during July.

Nevada casinos won $1.146 billion from gamblers in July, eclipsing by $3 million the previous record of $1.143 billion reported in May, results released Wednesday by the Gaming Control Board show.

The 10.1 percent increase was the first double-digit increase for 2007 and the third in the last 12 months.

The double-digit increase surprised industry analysts because July had no large events such as a major convention or sporting event. The month also had one less weekend day than 2006.

However, some of the slot-machine revenues generated the last weekend in June, which ended on a Saturday, were not recorded until the first week of July.

"Going into the month we were expecting softer results because it was an unfavorable calendar," said Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board. "We were also looking at very strong comparisons to last year."

He said the state win was up 8.5 percent in July 2006 from 2005, and the Strip win was up 10 percent in 2006 from 2005.

Double-digit increases in many table games on the Strip, most significantly blackjack and baccarat, carried the month statewide.

Blackjack wins on the Strip during July were $101.9 million, a 28.7 percent increase from same month last year, while statewide blackjack wins increased 13.9 percent to $136.6 million.

Baccarat win on the Strip, which accounts for 99 percent of the state's win in the category, was $71.5 million, a 28.2 percent increase.

Players' poor luck at the tables benefited the casinos more than usual in July.

Streshley said the casinos' win percentages for the two games, 13.6 percent for blackjack and 15 percent for baccarat, were above normal.

"That's one of those things that could go either direction," he said. "This month just happens to be abnormally high on the casino side."

State casinos also won $47.9 million from craps players, up 16.1 percent from last year and $35 million from roulette, a 24.1 percent climb.

Table games accounted for $368.4 million of the gaming win, while slot machines took in $761.8 million.

"Casinos were slightly luckier than they have been in the past," said Brian Gordon, a principal at Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas financial consulting firm. "All the high-end table games were up."

On the Strip, casinos won $606.8 million from gamblers, a 14.1 percent increase compared with July 2006. The figure was well below from the Strip's all-time one month gaming win total of $642.4 million, recorded last November.

Clark County's win increased 13.4 percent to $964.7 million from $850.9 million a year ago.

Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joseph Greff said the Red Rock Resort, which opened in April 2006, made year ago comparisons for the county more difficult because customers were still flocking to the new property.

Gordon said new inventory in the county during the last two years, such as Red Rock Resort and Suncoast, seemed to affect gaming win positively.

The last weekend in June added an extra couple of days of slot revenue for July fattening some the county's numbers in heavy slot play areas such as downtown, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesquite.

Downtown casinos reported a gaming win of $53.7 million, a 9.6 percent increase from $49 million the previous July.

"That market has been down or flat for sometime," Streshley said. "Some of the downtown properties have gone through and refurbished so maybe that is starting to pay off."

The Boulder Strip casinos, which include areas of Henderson, had revenues of $85.1 million, up 13.2 percent from $75.2 million a year ago.

North Las Vegas revenues increased 15.4 percent to $28.5 million from $24.7 million last July; Mesquite revenues increased 21.1 percent to $15.5 million from $12.8 million.

The areas experienced decreases of 13.8 percent and 28.5 percent in June, supporting Streshley's accounting-quirk analysis.