Nevada gaming revenue down 4 percent in October
November 26, 2014
LAS VEGAS — Nevada gambling revenue was down for the third month in a row compared with a year ago.
Casinos kept $914 million of all the wagers and bets made in October, 4 percent short from the same time a year ago, according to the latest statistics from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Mike Lawton, the board's senior research analyst, said revenues have been "flat to down" for some time. Since January, gambling has been down a little less than one percent compared with the first 10 months in 2013, he said.
Not counting baccarat, the lucrative but volatile card game often pointed to as the cause of swinging casino fortunes, overall state revenue would have been up 1.2 percent. The game typically earns the most revenue each month despite accounting for just 6 percent of all the physical table games in the state. There were 330 baccarat tables compared with 2,749 blackjack tables in October, for example. It's played at just 27 casinos statewide.
By looking at gambling revenues without it, analysts can get a clearer picture of Nevada's broader casino and tourism economy, Lawton said. Gambling revenues of $787 million on the Las Vegas Strip were down 6 percent year-over-year, according to the board's statistics. Without the game, Strip winnings would have been up 5.6 percent last month.
David Schwartz, director of UNLV's Center for Gaming Research, said baccarat shouldn't be cut out of the equation when considering Nevada's gambling economy, though.
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"When it's faithful to us, we count it," he said, adding that the game has become essential to casinos. Baccarat accounted for 16 percent of all gambling revenue last October in the state and 11 percent this year.
"That's such a huge part of the whole gaming picture now," Schwartz said.
October's figures reflect Nevada's reliance on high-end gambling, he said. Looking at slot-machine wagers, spending by regular gamblers hasn't shrunk, but "it's not growing as much as people would like it to grow," Schwartz said.
Lawton said the rising volume of slot-machine wagers statewide and on the Strip are examples of "healthy positive trends."
The amount of football bets wagered — almost $380 million — was a record in October, Lawton said. The amount casinos won from those bets, though, dropped. Statewide revenues were down 3 percent in the first four months of the fiscal year.
Other area of the state had a winning month. Downtown Las Vegas revenues of $48 million were up 1 percent. Reno casinos brought in $47 million in October, up 8 percent. South Lake Tahoe revenues of $19 million were a 53 percent improvement over last October.
The state collected $67 million in taxes based on the October winnings, up 9 percent compared with the same time last year.
The state's three online poker sites earned $665,000 in October, down 47 percent compared with a year ago. One of the three, Ultimate Gaming's Ultimate Poker, shut down this month, leaving Nevada with two sites: Real Gaming and the World Series of Poker.