All we need is Bill Murray to run for governor. The monthly reporting of gaming revenues by Nevada is starting to take on the characteristics of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day.” Every month is a repeat of the last.
“It seems like I keep on telling the same story,” Gaming Control Board Tax and License Division Chief Frank Streshley said Thursday. “People are coming but the spending levels midweek are not what they used to be. The revenue figures are what we saw in 2004.”
Nevada gaming revenues nose-dived for the 19th straight month. July was also the ninth time in the last 10 months that there was a double-digit drop.
Casinos statewide reported gaming revenues of $872.7 million during July, a 12.5 percent decrease compared with $997 million reported in July 2008, according to figures released Thursday by the control board.
The news wasn’t good on the Strip either. Strip casinos reported revenues of $461.3 million, a decline of 11.1 percent compared with $519.2 million a year ago.
Also, as in previous months, baccarat action on the Strip kept the figures from tumbling even lower. Casinos won $68.2 million from baccarat while the amount wagered on the game was up 26.5 percent. Without baccarat figures, the gaming revenues statewide would have been down almost 15 percent.
“It’s significant when you look at the figures from blackjack where the revenues were off 27 percent,” Streshley said.
Statewide, casinos won $281.5 million from table games, down 7.7 percent from July 2008, while the amount wagered, $2.2 billion, was off 14.3 percent. Slot machine revenues were $577.9 million, a decline of 14.8 percent from a year ago, while the amount wagered on slot machines, $9.4 billion, was down 12.5 percent.
Streshley said the July results were a disappointment because the July 2008 gaming revenues were a decline of 13 percent compared with 2007.
“We thought that when we would start comparing with the double-digit declines from a year ago, that things would start bottoming out,” Streshley said. “That doesn’t seem to be happening.”
For the first seven months of 2009, gaming revenues are down 13.3 percent statewide and 14.2 percent on the Strip.
Gaming taxes collected based on July revenues were $57.3 million, a decrease of 1.6 percent compared with collections of $58.2 million a year ago.
Local analyst Jacob Oberman, who oversees gaming and research analysis for CBRichard Ellis, did find a few bright spots for the casino industry moving forward. The baccarat numbers on the Strip were a positive sign.
“Revenue is revenue, and after several months early in the year of poor baccarat and minibaccarat volumes and hold percentage, Strip operators seem to be playing luckier and are finding ways to attract high-end players,” Oberman said in a report to clients.
He added that Strip operators began reeling in costs and better managed their businesses during the second quarter, driving more business through hotel occupancy, although average daily room rates had declined significantly.
“Although higher occupancy rates will drive lower average spending per visitor (with all other things being equal), the higher foot traffic will increase nonhotel revenue, including in the casino,” Oberman wrote.
In local markets, only North Las Vegas casinos reported an increase. Gaming revenues, helped by the opening in November of Aliante Station, climbed 7.4 percent to $23.6 million, compared with $22 million a year ago.
Meanwhile, gaming revenues fell almost 7 percent on the Boulder Strip — which includes Henderson — 11.5 percent in downtown and 11.8 percent in the balance of Clark County. The news was equally bad around the rest of the state. Washoe County’s revenue total of $71.2 million in July was the Northern Nevada county’s lowest single-month total since 1987. Washoe County also recorded its 25th straight monthly decline.
Casinos in South Lake Tahoe saw revenues decline 33.2 percent in July to $27.3 million, the area’s lowest single-month gaming revenue total in 25 years.
Streshley said the recession and American Indian casinos in Northern California have taken customers away from the Lake Tahoe market.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871.