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Howard Stutz

Nevada casinos post second-biggest win

12 January 2007

NEVADA – In November, Nevada's casino operators truly gave thanks.

Buoyed by robust table game play on the Strip and a skyrocketing locals market in Las Vegas, Nevada casinos won more than $1.4 billion in November, according to a report released Thursday by the Gaming Control Board. Statewide, the gaming win was a 14.1 percent increase over November 2005 and was the highest total ever for the 11th month of the year.

The figure narrowly missed the state's all-time gaming win record, reported in January, when casinos won $1.141 billion from gamblers. The November total marked the eighth month in 2006 that casinos statewide collectively totaled more than $1 billion in gaming revenues.

After two straight months in which the statewide gaming win either declined or gained modestly, analysts were perplexed by the booming results.

"It was a phenomenal month," said Frank Streshley, the control board's senior research analyst. "Coming off two soft months, we were surprised by the results."

Streshley said the gaming win from 341 casinos used in the revenue summary was down one casino from October because of the Nov. 1 closure of the Stardust.

Statewide, the slot machine win was $712 million, up just 1.7 percent. Gamblers wagered $11.4 billion on slot machines, up 0.8 percent from a year ago, and $3.1 billion on table games, up 18.7 percent from November 2005.

Strip casinos fueled the statewide results, posting their largest monthly gaming win ever in November, with $642.4 million in gaming revenues, an increase of 22.4 percent from a year ago.

Table game play, notably baccarat, was the main source of the increase.

Baccarat tables collected $117.2 from gamblers in November, up 100.1 percent from a year ago. In addition, gaming win from blackjack was $116.7 million, up 20.1 percent, roulette win totaled $35 million, a 24.2 percent increase, while the craps win of $37.2 million was off 9.8 percent.

The state's sports books scored big over football bettors, winning $35.5 million, a 539 percent increase over last November. Streshley said sports book operators told him the results were due to football wagering. Gamblers, he said, more than often wager on the favorites.

During November, sports book operators said the underdogs did well against the point spread in National Football League and college football games.

Clark County as a whole reported a gaming win of $989.6 million, up 16.9 percent from November 2005. The balance of the county portion, which includes the 13-month-old South Point and the 9-month-old Red Rock Resort reported a 27.3 percent increase in gaming win to $115.4 million. Streshley projected that either January or March could produce the $1 billion monthly gaming win for Clark County.

"The growth continues at a strong pace, especially in the locals market," he said.

Streshley said Strip casinos brought in customers for several November special events.

A welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Carlos Baldomir drew 9,427 fans to the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Nov. 4. The Rolling Stones sold out a concert at MGM Grand on Nov. 11.

Also, a performance by entertainer Barbra Streisand at the MGM Grand accounted for an increase in domestic high-rollers flocking to Strip casinos on Nov. 18, Streshley said. The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association convention brought more than 100,000 visitors to Las Vegas during the month.

"We made a lot more phone calls to the casinos to try and determine what helped the month," Streshley said. "Thanksgiving is usually a pretty slow period."

Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joe Greff pointed out in a research note that the Strip, which is up $6.1 billion through November, continues to outpace results from Macau's booming casinos, which have a gaming win of $5.9 billion through November.

"On the Strip, strength came from much stronger performance at the tables, more specifically, from robust baccarat play," Greff said. "Baccarat significantly contributed to the strength, with win up on higher hold and higher volume."

For the sixth straight month, downtown casinos reported lower gaming revenue. Thy won $53.7 million from gamblers in November, down 1.7 percent from a year ago.