October gaming win by Nevada's casinos was down 11.5 percent to just more than $800 million - the lowest monthly win since December 2003.
After two straight months of just single-digit declines in total win, Control Board analyst Frank Streshley said those in the business had been expecting to see losses continue to shrink. He said gaming operators also had reported some growth in room bookings as another positive sign.
"Comments from major operators are that they are seeing signs there is improvement but they're not reflected in this," he said.
One of the reasons, he said, is that gamblers were a lot luckier this October than the same month of last year. Win percentages were down for all table games except baccarat. The overall hold - the percentage of total bets casinos keep - fell 2 percent to 10.5 percent.
That didn't apply to the baccarat tables, however, where total win jumped up 61 percent to $65 million.
The heavy baccarat play is a continuing indication that international high rollers are returning to Las Vegas. Streshley said some of those customers were undoubtedly drawn by a sold-out U-2 concert at Sam Boyd Stadium, a 40,000-seat venue.
In the north, South Lake Tahoe was again hard hit as total win there fell 24 percent to $15.9 million. That is on top of a 23.8 percent decline in October 2008, combining to cut win in half in just two years.
Washoe County casinos didn't fare much better, suffering their 28th straight month of declines. Total win reported was $67.2 million, a 14 percent drop from a year ago. Reno was hardest hit at 16 percent down.
The Carson Valley Area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County as well as the capital, suffered a 7.3 percent drop to
$9.3 million. In October 2008, the Carson area was up 3.5 percent.
Lyon casinos fared better with just a 3.1 percent drop to $3.4 million for the month.
The only area of the state reporting a gain over a year ago was North Las Vegas with a 3.3 percent increase in total win. But that will probably go away next month when the Aliante, a major resort which substantially increased business in that area, will have been open a full year.
The statewide drop for October this year is on top of the 22.3 percent drop reported in October 2008 - the worst decline since the Gaming Control Board started keeping monthly records.
Altogether, total win for October has fallen more than $300 million in the past two years.
Overall, the state collected $49.26 million in gaming taxes from the October numbers. That is 12.7 percent or $.976 million less than a the prior year. For the fiscal year to date, gaming tax revenues are 10.3 percent less than the same period of the last fiscal year.