Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2017

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War, SARS hurt April casino win in Nevada

After eight straight months of increases, the casino win in Nevada in April slumped by 6.9 percent, partly because of the war in Iraq.

The state Gaming Control Board reported today gross revenue fell to $744.6 million, down from last year's $799.5 million. The gross revenue is the net amount lost by gamblers and won by casinos.

Every gaming market in the state suffered a decline, said Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the board. This was the first time in his memory that all the markets were off. Even after Sept. 11, he said there were some areas that reported gains.

The industry, he said, "was hurt by the Iraq war." When the conflict started in March, there were few hotel cancellations but those increased as the war continued into April, he said.

And the stormy weather in Northern Nevada contributed to the decline in the tourist market. In addition Easter, which is one of the slowest gaming times, fell in April this year as opposed to March last year.

The board said gross revenue from the table games fell by 11.8 percent. Baccarat, a favorite game of high-rollers, was down 59.3 percent statewide. Craps fell 1 percent; 21 was off 14.6 percent; roulette jumped 40.1 percent but the sports pool win was off 26.5 percent.

Slot gross revenue across the state fell 4.8 percent. Streshley said slot win would have been up slightly except for the payoff in April of a $39.7 million Megabucks jackpot that was won in March.

The casinos paid $39.7 million in taxes, down 17.5 percent from a year ago. So far this fiscal year, the tax collections are up 2.6 percent to $509.8 million

Casinos along the Las Vegas Strip reported winning $361.2 million, down 5.3 percent. It was also the first decline after eight months of gains. Winnings from table games fell by 12.9 percent and baccarat was off 60.7 percent.

Through the first quarter, some major Las Vegas operators have reported dips in profit primarily due to the lagging economy. The Iraq war would yield a temporary drop in business that has already picked up, they said.

Mandalay Resort Group, which last month reported financial results through its fiscal first quarter ended April 30, said an increase in room revenue for the current quarter was likely as the effects of the war in Iraq diminished.

Streshley said some of the flights from the Far East were cancelled because of the SARS problem. And many of these people are high-end players.

The win on the Strip would have been up 1.1 percent, excluding baccarat. The board said 21 revenue fell 13.6 percent; craps was up 3.9 percent; roulette gained 56.7 percent and slot win rose 0.8 percent.

The slot win at the 22 largest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip rose to $176.1 million, up 1.7 percent.

Asian visitors only account for a few percentage points of Las Vegas visitation, with most international visitors coming from Canada and Mexico, according to a report on SARS and Asian gamblers released last month by UBS Warburg analyst Robin Farley. While a large number of high-rollers and baccarat players are from Asia, even a 20 percent or more drop in baccarat due to concerns about SARS might not account for more than a few cents of a company's earnings per share results per quarter, she said.

"Even without any impact from SARS, the Las Vegas Strip baccarat market has been weak," she said. Data through March show a 2.1 percent increase in revenue above 2002 levels, but volumes are down 8.1 percent as house luck prevailed.

Downtown Las Vegas casinos reported $51.8 million in gross win, computed before taxes and business expenses. That's a drop of 8.4 percent and the second decline in the four months this year. Slot win fell 13.7 percent but table win rose 8.3 percent.

The board said North Las Vegas casinos fell 7.4 percent to $17 million. This reverses an increase of four straight months. Slot win was off 10.5 percent but table games were up 21.3 percent.

Clubs in Laughlin reported $46.3 million in gross win, off 3.3 percent. It was the third straight month of declining revenue compared to a year ago. Gross revenue from the slots was off 3.3 percent and table game win fell 3.6 percent.

Gaming win in Mesquite fell 4.7 percent to $9.4 million. Slot win was down 5.5 percent and table games fell 0.6 percent

The board said clubs in the balance of Clark County recorded $66 million in win, off 8.5 percent, the first drop in revenue this year. Slot win was off 8.5 percent and table games fell 9.4 percent.

Washoe County casinos registered $77.7 million, down 10.8 percent and the third straight month of decline. Slot winnings fell 9.1 percent and games declined 16.3 percent.

South Lake Tahoe casinos fell 20.2 percent to $22.1 million after seven months of gains. Streshley said this is compared to a 28.3 percent increase last year in April. Slot win was off 14.2 percent and game and table win dropped 31.5 percent.

The board said casinos in Elko County dropped 9 percent to $17.4 million. That follows an 11.7 percent decline in March. Slot win fell 9.7 percent and game and table win decreased 6.2 percent

Carson Valley casinos reported $7.7 million in gross win, off 2 percent. This is the first decline in six months and Streshley said it was a surprise. Business was good in the first two months of the Legislature -- February and March -- but fell off in April. Slot win fell 2.9 percent but table win was up 8 percent.