Carson sees biggest drop ever |

Carson sees biggest drop ever

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Carson City area casinos saw their biggest annual drop in winnings on record in 2008, according to the state Gaming Control Board.

Winnings fell 6.4 percent to about $112 million in Carson City, Minden and Gardnerville from 2007 to 2008, the board said.

The economy hurt winnings and forced staff cuts at the Carson Nugget, one of the largest and oldest casinos in Carson City, said Nugget General Manager Star Anderson.

The casino cut the number of full-time employees from 460 to 325 the past year, Anderson said.

The Nugget has seen challenges before, she said, and will get through the slow economy.

Negotiations to sell the casino to a developer still are underway, but have been slowed, she said.

Casinos in the city have seen other challenges. The city’s most famous casino, the Ormsby House, still is under reconstruction. Construction on what likely will be the biggest casino in Carson City, the Sierra Gold, could be delayed up to three years. The Station Grille Restaurant, affiliated with the Carson Station casino, closed in October after being open 15 years.

Jonathan Boulware, general manager of Gold Dust West in Carson City, said the casino hopes to see sales at least stay flat this year.

“I think it’s a tough market for everybody,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a secret.”

Boulware said many casinos are increasing marketing to at least get people in their doors.

“It’s a simple formula,” he said.

The market had been strong until winnings began their worst fall three years ago, said Control Board analyst Frank Streshley.

Winnings fell 0.3 percent in 2006 and 4 percent in 2007.

Casino winnings in the area make up only about 1 percent of those in the state, Streshley said. The growth in housing and retail in the area had kept gaming strong until a few years ago, however, he said.