(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Nevada’s gaming revenues continued their slide in September, but for the second consecutive month the decline was only in the single digits.
Nevada casinos won $911 million in September, a 9 percent decline over September 2008 when the industry brought in $1 billion in revenues, according to a report released today by the Gaming Control Board.
The industry win in August was 9.3 percent lower than in August 2008, so the September report shows a slight improvement over the month. Even so, it was the 21st straight month of revenue decline for Nevada’s biggest industry.
Frank Streshley, control board Tax and License Division chief, said there were some positive elements in the report. For the first time since March, statewide gaming revenue exceeded $900 million, he said. The Las Vegas Strip, which contributes 53 percent of the total state gaming revenue, saw a decline of only 3.6 percent in September, the smallest decline since June 2008, he said.
A big reason for the stronger showing on the Strip was baccarat play, a game preferred by high end gamblers. Strip casinos took $98.5 million from baccarat players, a 30 percent increase over September 2008.
Another positive was the amount of money played on slot machines statewide, which totaled $9.1 billion. The figure was down 6.9 percent compared to the same month in the previous year, the smallest decline in 12 months, Streshley said.
A significant and favorable factor in the September report was the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez fight on Sept. 19 at the MGM in Las Vegas, he said. The fight brought in high end players and contributed to the baccarat win by casinos, Streshley said.
“We have seen two months of really strong baccarat play,” he said. “So with the Strip’s numbers being down only 3.6 percent you are seeing a rebound there. But there is going to be a lag between the Strip recovery versus our local markets.”
Clark County overall gaming win in September totaled $774 million, down 9.3 percent over September 2008. Downtown Las Vegas was off 8.7 percent, while the Boulder Strip was off 28 percent.
Washoe County was down 6.4 percent for the 27th straight month of gaming revenue declines.
State Budget Director Andrew Clinger had no real comment on the gaming report, saying other tax reports due by the end of the month, including taxable sales, will be examined before a decision is made on whether a special session of the Legislature is needed to keep the current budget in balance.
“We’ll just have to see when the revenues come in at the end of November where we’re at,” he said.
Not only are many of the state’s tax revenues coming in lower than projected, but the spending side of the budget is also an issue, Clinger said. Medicaid spending is much higher than budgeted, which he said is a greater concern than the revenue side of the equation.