Nevada Casinos Fall Victim to Recession
In a place where lives can change overnight, it seems that the difference of a year has taken its toll on the Nevada gaming industry. After reporting a record month in October 2007, the Gaming Control Board has announced that Nevada had its single worst gaming revenue drop in the state’s history. They reported that revenue was down more than $260 million or 22.3 percent for October 2008. Frank Streshley, a senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board said, “In October, we saw huge declines in the stock market, unemployment began spiking up, and consumer confidence and spending were at all-time lows.”
For 10 consecutive months gaming revenues have declined and the $905 million casinos brought in was the lowest total for a single month since April 2005. Gov. Jim Gibbons told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “It’s disheartening because we have learned that the gaming industry is not recession-proof. Consumers are not spending, and we are in a national economic slowdown. Lower gaming revenues are not a surprise.”
The Las Vegas strip has been the hardest hit with its October totals down 25.8 percent and for the year The Strip is reporting it is down 8.7 percent overall though the percentage for the state is only slightly lower at 8.3 percent. No aspect of the industry is immune to the decline. There is a 13.7 percent drop in slot wagering and a 17.9 percent decline in table games statewide. Again, The Strip is suffering with worse numbers, a 17.6 percent drop in slots and a 20.5 percent fall in table games. Baccarat revenue has tumbled a shocking 63 percent from October 2007.
Despite the bleak numbers, Streshley feels that December’s numbers – not to be released until February – might be given a boost thanks to the December 22 opening of Encore by Wynn Resorts. “It’s opening during a difficult time period, but these types of major additions often give the market a lift,” said Streshley. While the overall casino revenue numbers are depressed, it is likely that the state’s poker rooms are not seeing such a decline. It was reported last month that most poker rooms are remaining stable with some even slightly ahead compared to numbers last year.
Andy Rich, poker room manager at Harrah’s, the Flamingo and O’Sheas says the fact that players can lose less yet spend more time at the table is a major reason for the stability; ”You can lose a lot less in poker than in blackjack.”