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Cy Ryan

Gaming Win Slumps in July

10 September 2004

CARSON CITY, Nevada -- After months of double-digit increases, winnings in Nevada casinos slumped in July by 1.5 percent compared with a year ago.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today that casinos statewide won $812.4 million before taxes and business expenses, or $13 million less than a year ago.

Every Las Vegas-area casino zone, including the Strip, contributed to the decline.

Several factors contributed to the decrease. Slot-machine revenue, the largest generator of winnings, was off slightly, casinos were unlucky at blackjack and race and sports book revenue was down as casinos paid off professional basketball futures bets.

"After six solid months, the latest gaming statistics are disappointing," Gov. Kenny Guinn said. "Nevada's economy is strong and I am confident this latest downturn is only temporary."

Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the board, said the volume of play on the slot machines was up 7.7 percent and an increase of 13.9 percent on the games.

The board said statewide slot machine winnings fell to $564.7 million, off 2.9 percent. Table game gross revenue remained stable with a win of $239.1 million, up 0.5 percent. But Streshley said "casinos were very unlucky on 21."

Statewide revenue from blackjack fell by $11.7 million. Streshley said the casinos traditionally have a "hold" percentage of 13 percent but it fell to 10.4 percent in July.

While the gross revenue collected by casinos from baccarat grew by 44.8 percent during the month, winnings from blackjack fell 12.2 percent; craps rose 9.7 percent, roulette grew 7.1 percent but the sports pool winnings fell by 83.5 percent statewide.

Streshley said the sports pool revenue dropped because the casinos paid off futures bets and wagers on the pro basketball season that ended in June.

In four of the first six months of this year, the casinos statewide reported double-digit increases in gross revenue. The last time there was a decrease in the year-over-year comparison was in December 2003 when the win fell by 1 percent.

Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip reported winnings of $393.8 million, down 0.7 percent. Five of the six months this year have seen double-digit increases at the Strip casinos. The last decrease was in December, which was down 0.8 percent.

Slot win at the 43 Strip casinos fell 2.1 percent to $228.8 million. Table revenue produced $160.3 million, up 0.3 percent.

Gross revenue from baccarat jumped 48.1 percent but blackjack winnings fell 16 percent. Craps revenue rose 15 percent and roulette was up 3.3 percent. Winnings in the sports pool at Strip casinos fell 173.8 percent.

Streshley said Strip casinos were down $9.2 million in blackjack. He said the "hold" percentage on the Strip traditionally is 12.4 percent, but it fell to 9 percent in July.

The 19 casinos in downtown Las Vegas registered $53 million in winning, down 2.6 percent. Slot machine revenue fell 10 percent to $37.3 million but game and table win increased 19.7 percent to 14.1 million.

North Las Vegas' 11 casinos were hit hard, reporting $17.4 million in win, down 13.9 percent. Slot machine revenue fell 17.6 percent but table games increased 14.1 percent.

Laughlin casinos were a bright spot in Southern Nevada with gross revenue up 9.4 percent to $48.6 million. Slot winnings jumped 10.4 percent at the 10 casinos and table game revenue increased 2.1 percent.

The 33 clubs along the Boulder Strip produced $509.1 million, a decline of 16 percent from a year ago. It was the biggest drop since August 2002 when it fell 16.3 percent. Table gross revenue rose 3.9 percent to $6.9 million but slot win dropped 19 percent to $42.6 million.

The board said the seven casinos in Mesquite won $9.8 million, up 16.5 percent. Revenue from the games fell 20.2 percent but slot winnings were up 22.3 percent.

The 68 clubs in the balance of Clark County reported $74.3 million in gross win, up 3.4 percent. Slot machine winning rose 2 percent to $63 million and game revenue jumped 12.8 percent to $10.7 million.