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Cy Ryan

Casino winnings fall for seventh straight month

10 September 2008

CARSON CITY, Nevada -- For the seventh straight month, casino winnings on the Strip slumped, falling 14.6 percent in July from the year before.

It is "the worst run for Nevada gaming casinos since the early 1980s," said Frank Streshley, senior research specialist for the state Gaming Control Board.

It was also the seventh month of decline for casinos statewide and the third straight month they reported gross win of below $1 billion.

By comparison, there were five months of decline after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he said.

The poor showing was the result of a "huge drop" in the play in slot machines and the casinos won a lower percentage of the money bet on the games. The casinos statewide won $997.3 million and the Strip casinos accounted for 53 percent of that amount.

The $997.3 million was down 12.9 percent from July 2007 which at that time recorded a record win of $1.46 billion.

The Strip was hit hard in all their major games and at the slot machines. For instance, the gross win at the 24 sports books on the Strip plunged 226.2 percent and they reported a loss of $1.4 million. Most of that came from bets paid at the end of the professional basketball season with the Boston Celtics winning the NBA championship.

Every area in the state, except South Lake Tahoe, reported a decline in gross win.

The control board reported that gaming win at the clubs in downtown Las Vegas fell 16.9 percent with slot revenue down 15.8 percent and games off 19.3 percent. North Las Vegas casinos were off 21.8 percent with slots down 21 percent and table games falling 31.5 percent.

Laughlin was down 7.5 percent with slot winnings down 6.9 percent and table games off 11.9 percent. Mesquite casinos fell 32.4 percent with slot win down 33.3 percent and games off 26.8 percent. Casinos in the balance of Clark County recorded a 12.8 percent decline with slots off 13.1 percent and games down 12.1 percent.

Gross win is computed before business expenses and taxes.

The state collected $58.2 million in taxes, down 23.9 percent from a year ago.

Blackjack winnings on the Strip dropped 21.3 percent; craps was off 27.2 percent; roulette fell 17.8 percent and baccarat dipped 26.8 percent.

The slot machine win on the Strip was off 9 percent. The penny machines and the $100 slots were the only ones that posted an increase from July 2007.

Streshley said $3.9 billion was played in the slot machines, down 12.2 percent on the Strip. The "drop" from the games on the Strip rose 5.3 percent to $2 billion for July. But the win percentage for the casinos was 11.3 percent compared to 15.1 percent of a year ago.

The board reported that gross win in Washoe County casinos dropped for the 13th consecutive month, posting a 3.8 percent decline.

South Lake Tahoe casinos, after registering a 23.9 percent decline in June, posted a 10.9 percent increase. Streshley said the area was helped by a celebrity golf tournament.

For the second straight month, the win at casinos in Carson City was down 2.8 percent from a year ago. And Elko casinos registered an 11 percent drop, the biggest percentage decline in at least the last three years.

There were no special events in Clark County, he said, and there was one less weekend day, which could account for part of the decline.