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Howard Stutz

Nevada November Win Results Up

12 January 2006

NEVADA -- Nevada casinos have already surpassed the state's all-time annual gaming win record with one more month left to collect numbers, the Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.

Through November 2005, the state's gambling halls have won more than $10.7 billion from casino customers, almost 11 percent ahead of 2004, when the casinos collected $10.6 billion in gaming win.

During November, which is traditionally a slow month for tourism, Nevada casinos reported $999.6 million in casino win, a 16 percent jump from the $861.7 million won in November 2004.

One gaming analyst said December's results should be no different and contribute toward annihilating the 2004 record.

"Conversations with Strip operators indicate that business volumes over New Year's Eve in Las Vegas were up significantly year over year," Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Marc Falcone said in a note to investors. "Additionally, we believe expectations for the fourth quarter on the whole are low and operators could exceed them."

Four times in 2005, Nevada's casinos reached the $1 billion gaming win threshold. November's totals fell just short, but it was still an active month.

Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the control board, said November was the 16th consecutive month Nevada casinos reported a collective increase in gaming win.

The November win total included $286.9 million from table games and $696.8 million from slot machines.

Strip casinos won $524.7 million in November, a 23.8 percent increase from $423.9 million over the same time period in 2004.

Gaming win at downtown Las Vegas casinos declined for the sixth time in the past seven months. In November, downtown properties reported a gaming win of $54.6 million, off 5.2 percent compared with a gaming win of $57.6 million a year ago.

Streshley said an upheaval in the downtown market -- a takeover of the Golden Nugget by Landry's Restaurants and Barrick's subsequent departure from its ownership of four casinos -- contributed toward falling revenues.

"Downtown Las Vegas is going through a transitional period," Streshley said. "That may have had an impact on the market."

Still, any losses along Fremont Street were offset on the Strip, where slot win jumped 19.2 percent and table game win was up 9.1 percent.

Streshley said the November Strip numbers were helped by three concerts at the MGM Grand -- U2, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney -- that filled hotel rooms and brought large crowds to the casino.

"November is historically one of the lesser months for tourism so these results are quite impressive," Streshley said.

Falcone, based on conversations with Strip casino operators, thinks the New Year's weekend was a success for the house.

"Following channel checks with the Las Vegas Strip operators over the last two weeks, we remain encouraged that the overall volume of high-end gaming play improved over last year," Falcone wrote in his investors note. "The MGM-Mirage properties and Caesars Palace appear to have played lucky for the holiday period while Wynn Las Vegas' hold may have been soft over the New Year's week, but should be normal for the quarter."

The statewide gaming win of $999.6 million came on $14 billion in total wagers. That figure included $2.6 billion bet on table games and $11.4 billion wagered on slot machines.