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Howard Stutz

NEVADA GAMING REVENUE: Bettors strike back

10 November 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Gamblers hit a lucky streak in September.

Table game players and sports bettors exited Nevada casinos with a little more money in their pockets as the state's monthly gaming win fell for only the second time in two years, according to figures released Thursday by the Gaming Control Board.

Nevada casinos won $985 million during the month, a decrease of 2.7 percent compared with $1.01 billion won in September 2005. The fall wasn't as steep as in June, when statewide gaming revenues declined almost 3.5 percent from June 2005.

Almost every area of Nevada reported year-over-year decreases in gaming revenues during September. On the Strip, the gaming win was $516.3 million, a drop of 4.3 percent from $539.4 million a year ago. Clark County's casinos reported $807.8 million in gaming win, down 3.3 percent from $835.3 million in September 2005.

Downtown casinos' gaming win declined for the fourth straight month, falling 8.4 percent to $47.4 million, compared with $51.7 million last September. Casinos in Laughlin were off 5 percent, North Las Vegas casinos were off 14.8 percent, Boulder Strip casinos were down 16.7 percent and revenues at Mesquite casinos fell 16.7 percent.

The one notable exception was the area referred to as "Balance of Clark County," which had a gaming win of $106.6 million, up 23.1 percent compared with $86.6 million a year ago. The area includes the gaming revenues collected at the South Point and Red Rock Resort, two casinos not open in September 2005.

Morgan Joseph gaming analyst Adam Steinberg said the revenue figures may point toward the new casinos taking business away from casinos in other parts of the valley.

"In general, the locals market reported solid gains, as would be expected given the addition of Red Rock and (South Point)," Steinberg said in a note to investors. "However, we continue to believe these two properties are cannibalizing from the older Las Vegas locals properties. In particular, revenue at both Boulder Strip and North Las Vegas declined year over year."

Steinberg said downtown continued to suffer because of the closure in February of the Lady Luck and general softness in the market.

Despite downtown's numbers, Mayor Oscar Goodman was upbeat about the area's prospects. He said a $100 million renovation of the Golden Nugget would be a boost.

"People will be coming downtown in throngs," Goodman said at his weekly press conference. "Next month, I think the numbers are going to be up."

Bear Stearns gaming analyst Joe Greff said he didn't think the off month would affect the stock prices of the major casino operators.

"Although revenues declined for the Strip and the state, we think performance was expected given third-quarter earnings releases and (we) do not expect much reaction from investors," Greff said in an investors note.

Gaming Control Board senior research analyst Frank Streshley said September 2006 had a tough comparison with September 2005 going in. The $1.01 billion won last year was a 9.4 percent increase from September 2004.

"We're looking at the same scenario for the next several months," Streshley said.

Table game customers were beneficiaries of the casinos' off month.

The win from table games by casinos statewide was $331.7 million, down 8 percent compared with $359 million last year.

Blackjack tables statewide contributed $113.5 million to the total, which was off 8 percent from $122.9 million in the month last year. In Strip casinos, revenue from blackjack dipped almost 10 in September. The money won from blackjack customers represented more than 42 percent of the Strip's revenues from table games during the month, not counting baccarat.

Statewide, the casinos' win from craps was down 1.5 percent while the gaming revenues collected from mini-baccarat, a version of the card game played on a table similar to a blackjack table, were down 52.6 percent.

The money won from sports bettors, which also figured into the table game win, was $22.4 million in September, down 22.6 percent from a year ago.

"It looks like the sports books had a tough start to the NFL season," Streshley said of wagering on the first month of regular-season games for professional football.

The casinos take statewide from slot machines was also off slightly; $640.7 million compared with $641.5 million a year ago.

Gamblers statewide wagered $14.1 billion in September; $11.7 billion on slot machines which was up 4.1 percent, and $2.4 billion on table games, which was down almost 7 percent from September 2005.

NEVADA GAMING REVENUE: Bettors strike back is republished from