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Strip gaming revenue falls for 19th month

Nevada casinos take in 12.5 percent less in July

Updated Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 | 10:38 a.m.

CARSON CITY – Gaming revenue on the Strip fell by 11.1 percent in July, continuing a 19-month stretch of declines in the resort corridor that accounts for more than 50 percent of the state’s gaming business.

The Gaming Control Board reported that statewide gaming win, computed before business expenses and taxes, dropped to $872.6 million in July, down 12.4 percent.

Strip casinos won $461.3 million during the month, the smallest monthly win for a July since 2004. The 11.1 percent drop comes top of a double-digit drop of 14.6 percent in July 2008.

“There’s been a double-digit decline in spending by locals and tourists coming into the casinos,” says Frank Streshley, chief of tax and licensing for the state Gaming Control Board.

Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association in Las Vegas, said “People are struggling economically and holding on to the dollars they have.”

Bible said he doesn’t expect much improvement in August, “maybe a little worse.”

Without a good month in baccarat, which was up 26.5 percent statewide, the state’s gross win would have been down 14 percent, Streshley said.

He said there were no special events such as big concerts or major fights on the Strip in July.

The only place in Clark County to show an increase in gaming was North Las Vegas, where the win grew by 7.4 percent to $23.6 million, mostly due to the addition of the Alliante casino during this fiscal year.

The board reported the win in downtown Las Vegas casinos declined 11.4 percent to $39.8 million; Laughlin was off 18.5 percent at $39.2 million; the Boulder Strip was down 6.8 percent to $65.7 million; Mesquite fell 19.5 percent to $8.4 million and the balance of casinos in Clark County dropped 11.8 percent to $91.7 million.

Streshley also says he doesn’t see much upturn in the gaming picture until 2010.

The report reflects there was high end play in baccarat on the Strip in July with the win up 27.5 percent, Bible said. But he said the slot machine play, “the bread and butter” of the industry, fell 17.5 percent.

There was even a decline in the win in the penny machines, down 4 percent from a year ago. There had been strong growth in this area in past months. Streshley said many casinos took out nickel and quarter machines and replaced them with penny slots.

The tax collected from the gaming casinos for the last two months totaled $102.9 million, down 7.2 percent. The Economic Forum predicted a growth this year of about 4 percent. Streshley said, however, he thinks there will be some rebound in the second half of this fiscal year.

The board reported gross win from the 21 games on the Strip fell 25.9 percent; craps rose 3.6 percent; roulette was up 37.1 percent; Baccarat jumped 27.5 percent; the sports pool increased 32 percent but that came on a 226 percent drop in July 2008.

Statewide, Streshley said the sports books lost $636,000 due mostly to paying off future bets made at the beginning of the season on the outcome of the National Basketball Association.

Gaming in Washoe County fell for the 25th straight month, down 19.5 percent; South Lake Tahoe was off 33.1 percent to $27.2 million; Elko County declined 8.5 percent to $22.1 million and the Carson Valley area was down 7.1 percent to $9.2 million.

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