Casinos suffer worst drop in gaming wins on record

Nevada casinos suffered their worst decline on record in Fiscal 2009, with total gaming win finishing 13.7 percent below the previous year.

Frank Streshley, chief of tax and licensing at the Gaming Control Board, said the $10.8 billion statewide win for the fiscal year ending June 30 is the lowest total in five years. Three of those previous years, he said, raked in more than $12 billion.

The largest previous year-over-year drop was 2002, which declined 3.7 percent from 2001 in the wake of 9/11.

Budget Director Andrew Clinger said gaming tax collections, which make up 30 percent of revenue to the state General Fund, are already $2.17 million short of the projections used to build this fiscal year's budget.

That, however, doesn't mean the state can't pay its bills. The state maintains a reserve in the General Fund and the reserve for FY09 is projected to be $213 million.

The Carson Valley area, which includes Carson City and valley portions of Douglas County, saw a 9.9 percent drop for the year to $105.9 million in winnings. It was Carson's third straight year of declining win.

The area hardest hit was Mesquite in Southern Nevada, where win fell 18.9 percent.

That was followed by South Lake Tahoe at 17.4 percent for the year, but Streshley said South Shore's problems are more complex than just the economy. Win there was down just 8.9 percent the first six months of the year but fell dramatically - 27.3 percent - the second six months.

The difference, he said, was the opening of the Red Hawk Indian casino on Highway 50 in California. Total win for South Shore over the year was just $263.9 million.

North Shore casinos reported a 16.8 percent decline for the year to $31.5 million. That follows a 13.2 percent drop the year before for a total reduction in casino win of 30 percent in two years.

Streshley said two-thirds of total statewide win came from slot play - $7.2 billion. The remaining $3.5 billion was from game and table play.

Altogether, gamblers wagered $147.1 billion - $118.7 billion in slots and $28.4 billion on games. Those totals were down 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

The Las Vegas Strip was down 15.3 percent to $5.7 billion in win, its lowest total in four years.

The picture was worse in Washoe County, which, like South Shore, is competing with major Indian casinos in California.

Total win fell 13 percent to $867.2 million, the lowest reported win for Washoe in 15 years.

June numbers mirrored the rest of FY2009. Total win was down 13.8 percent from the previous June. Total win was $949.3 million with nearly all reporting areas in double digit decline.

That also matches the gaming tax collections reported by the state, which totaled $45.68 million - a 13.5 percent decrease.

June numbers weren't helped by the fact there were no major events to draw tourists during the month.


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