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Gaming revenues fall to 2006 levels

On the day the Dow Jones industrial average reverted to 2003 numbers, Nevada’s casino win fell back to 2006 levels.

Gaming revenues statewide in August were $934.1 million, the lowest monthly total since June 2006 when casinos won $921 million from gamblers. The August figure was the eighth straight monthly gaming revenue decline.

The numbers were released today by the Gaming Control Board. The 8.1 percent statewide decline, compared with the $1.016 billion casinos won from gamblers in August 2007, was not unexpected.

“It’s no different than what we were talking about six months ago,” said Frank Streshley, the control board’s senior research analyst. “People are still coming to Nevada, but the spending is way off from what it was a year ago. The figure is also surprising because August is typically one of our busiest months.”

On the Strip, gaming revenues were $494 million, a 7.4 percent decline compared with $533.6 million a year ago. Gaming analysts said lower table game holds offset an increase in table game wagering.

“The Las Vegas Strip’s results were affected by weaker table hold and lower slot revenue,” Wachovia gaming analyst Dennis Farrell Jr. said in a note to investors. “Consumers continued to reduce spending budgets.”

For the first eight months of 2008, gaming revenues are down 6.8 percent, the largest decline since the state has been keeping records since 1984. Gaming win has also declined nine out of the last 10 months while the state has recorded gaming revenues of less than $1 billion for four straight months. On the Strip, gaming revenues are down 6.6 percent compared with the first eight months of 2007.

“We expect 2008 and 2009 to be a transitional period for most segments of the Nevada gaming market, as the state’s residents adjust to higher levels of unemployment and declining household wealth and out of state residents reduce visitation frequency and spend per visit to Nevada,” Farrell said.

The August gaming revenues also impacted the monthly gaming tax collections. The state collected $54.6 million based on the monthly revenue totals, a decrease of 6.2 percent compared with $58.2 million collected in the same period last year.

Gamblers wagered $2.6 billion statewide on table games, 10 percent more than a year ago, including $714 million on baccarat. However, the lower hold percentage kept the revenues from table games at $322.5 million, a 0.4 percent increase compared with August 2007.

The slight gain was offset by slot machine wagering. Gamblers fed $10.9 billion into slot machines, 4.4 percent less than a year ago. Slot revenues were $598.6 million, down 12.3 percent.

Streshley said slot machine wagering is considered an economic indicator of the gaming industry‘s overall health.

“In August, gas prices were starting to come down, but consumer confidence was still very low,” Streshley said. “With all this other stuff happening with the economy and the markets declining, it’s a troubling time.”

Gaming revenues fell throughout Clark County in August, which reported a 9.4 percent decline. Downtown casinos saw gaming revenues fall 9.5 percent, gaming revenues on the Boulder Highway were down 22.4 percent and gaming revenues in North Las Vegas were off 17.8 percent.

The Boulder Highway market could see a boost in the future with the late August opening of the Eastside Cannery, although, Streshley said the casino could just be taking market share from the neighboring competition. Casinos in Mesquite won $10.8 million during the month, a 2 percent increase and the only location in Clark County that showed an increase over August 2007.

Casinos in Washoe County recorded 14th straight month of gaming revenue declines, but Reno casinos showed a nearly 1 percent increase, the first time in nine months that gaming revenues grew in the Northern Nevada city. Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.


Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871.

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