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Richard N. Velotta

Strip gaming falls 9.6 percent; other locations fare better

30 April 2015

Lucky baccarat players got the best of Strip casinos in March as the state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday reported a decline in gaming win in Clark County and statewide.

Analysts brushed the decline off as an unlucky month for casinos and said other factors portend future improvements for the industry.

Strip gaming win slumped by 9.6 percent for the month, but better results in other locations salvaged a smaller decline for Clark County and the state.

The board said Strip casinos won $507 million for the month, the only geographic location in the county to show a decline.
In the 24 Strip locations where the game is played, baccarat win was off 33.5 percent from a year ago.

While slot machine handle was up, Strip table games didn’t fare much better than baccarat for the casinos. Pai gow win declined 49.8 percent, roulette was off 20.4 percent, craps was down 9.5 percent and blackjack win declined 5.2 percent.

Sports books, capitalizing on the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournament, had a 90 percent increase in gaming win to $10.5 million, posting a winning percentage of 4.4.

Other locations in the county fared better. Downtown win was up 4.6 percent to $53.6 million, the Boulder Strip was up 19 percent to $81.3 million and North Las Vegas was up 14.4 percent to $29.3 million.
Countywide, gaming win was down 4 percent to $826.4 million and statewide, it was off 3.1 percent to $951.2 million.

“On the whole, the March Strip results were not nearly as bad as the headline (comparison) might indicate, as abnormally low baccarat hold distorted the monthly results,” said gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski of Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets, Baltimore.

“Looking beyond baccarat, while the results still showed a 4 percent gross gaming revenue decline, we found this performance to be slightly better than expected after taking the absence of a major conference in the 2015 period into account,” Wieczynski said.

“Las Vegas trends relatively healthy,” added Cameron McKnight, a senior analyst with Wells Fargo. “We believe the non­gaming outlook in Las Vegas remains positive given a strengthening corporate-convention mix, growing airline capacity and healthy first quarter revenue-per-available-room growth of 5 percent through February.”

Laughlin win was up 4.5 percent to $49.2 million and Mesquite was flat at $11.5 million.

Washoe County win was up 6.5 percent for the month to $64 million with only North Lake Tahoe showing a decline regionally, down 15.3 percent to $1.5 million.

For the first three quarters of the state’s fiscal year, gaming win is off 2.1 percent to $8.32 billion.