Bad weather snowballs February gaming revenue |

Bad weather snowballs February gaming revenue

by Sally J. Taylor, Tribune Staff Writer and Brendan Riley, Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY – South Shore casinos experienced a dismal February thanks to the weather and a generally soft market.

According to a report released Tuesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, clubs on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore won $16.1 million in February, down 15.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Casino winnings reflect the revenue left after players’ wins are paid.

Both Reno-Sparks and Tahoe-area casinos were hurt by weather that resulted in chain or snowtire requirements 21 days in February.

“We attribute February to one word, that’s the weather,” said Sue Hyde, the vice president of marketing for Caesars Tahoe.

Never a really great revenue month, she said, both revenue and hotel occupancy were lower than anticipated in February.

South Shore casinos depend a great deal upon the Northern California drive-up market, which is most affected by winter weather conditions.

“Destination business (visitors generally arriving by air) did O.K. in February,” according to Skip Sayre, director of marketing for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and the marketing liaison and vice-chairman for the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority.

Sayre reported good occupancy numbers but hotel guests are not automatically gamblers.

“It’s not occupancy so much as who we have in the hotel,” he said. “In order for us to do OK, we need both destination and the feeder market in Northern California.”

Gaming revenue is expected to be better in March, when a major advertising campaign by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority began.

The first in a series of ads appeared in three Northern California newspapers starting Feb. 27. Cable television spots in the Bay Area went on the air March 9.

The destination marketing campaign, which will take longer to show results, began Feb. 20 in western editions of USA Today and includes newspapers in Southern California. West Coast magazine ads appeared this month.

“I think March is going to be OK,” Sayre said. “I don’t think we’re going to break any records but I think we’ll be OK.”

By summer, when Tahoe casinos get the lion’s share of gaming business, the ad campaign will be more influential, he said.

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