Strong gaming year finishes on weak note in June |

Strong gaming year finishes on weak note in June

Geoff Dornan

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos had a record year in fiscal 2006, winning nearly $12.2 billion – a 10.8 percent increase over the previous year.

But they finished the year on a weak note with June recording the first year-over-year decrease in total win since July 2004.

Gaming Control Board analyst Frank Streshley said for the year, that is the strongest growth rate in six years, driven by the Las Vegas Strip and outlying areas of Clark County which reported a 14.6 percent increase. The Strip now accounts for 54.2 percent of total gaming win in Nevada – $6.4 billion for the year.

In a break from the longtime trend toward machine-gaming, the increase was fueled by a 14.6 percent growth in game and table win to more than $4 billion.

That compares to a 9 percent growth in slot win to $8 billion statewide. The entire state enjoyed a good year with the single exception of downtown Las Vegas where win totals fell 1.8 percent, he said.

Although slot play is far and away the largest component, game and table win has been growing faster for the past two or three years. Game and table win grew 14.6 percent in 2006 compared to 9 percent for slots. But game and table win is still half of what slot win is $4 billion compared to $8 billion.

The win for 21 increased 12.3 percent and Baccarat play 35.2 percent in 2006 after 30.2 percent the prior year. Poker win was up 27.5 percent for the year.

The total wagered in Nevada casinos during fiscal 2006 was more than $168 billion – $137 billion of that in slot machines.

The per-day win for both slots and table games also reached new highs during the year. Each slot made an average of $124.85 per day. Each game raked in an average $1,676 per day.

In the Carson Valley area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County, casinos won a record $124.7 million for the year. That is 4.4 percent more than the previous year, which is below the area’s 5.9 percent average for the past 10 years. For some unknown reason, most of that occurred in the first six months of the fiscal year when growth was 8.8 percent. During the second half of the fiscal year, growth was just one-tenth of a percent.

Slot play accounts for more than 90 percent of the area’s total win.

Stateline reported a total $343.4 million in winnings, a 4 percent increase following a 3.5 percent decline in win last year. Slot win actually declined two-tenths during fiscal 2006 but was more than offset by a 13.7 percent increase in game and table win.

At Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, casinos won a total of $42.7 million. That is 1.9 percent more than last year, which was a 7.7 percent increase over the previous year due to the reopening of the Crystal Bay Club.

Washoe County casinos reported an overall increase of 5.5 percent to just more than $1 billion, the area’s strongest growth since fiscal 2000.

Of that, $774.8 million was won by Reno casinos – their first year-over-year increase in six years since American Indian casinos along the San Francisco-Sacramento corridor opened.

June gaming report

June, however, wasn’t a good month for the state. The $921 million total win by casinos was $33 million less than the same month of 2005 – the first decline in 23 months and the largest decline in 37 months.

Streshley said casinos on the Las Vegas Strip were down $34 million in June, but that high-end play was actually up in June. Baccarat win was up nearly 23 percent.

“But all the other games were down,” he said.

Streshley said this could be a sign that gas prices and other rising costs are beginning to reduce the number of trips smaller players can make to Nevada.

In the Carson Valley area, June win was $11.1 million – a 7.3 percent increase over June 2005 – and at Stateline, $27.5 million – a 7.5 percent increase. North Shore reported a 7.3 percent increase for the month to $3.5 million.

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