CARSON CITY – Nevada’s casino winnings took a tumble in March after two strong months in 2012, dropping 10.9 percent compared to March 2011, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today.
The decline was led by Clark County markets, including the Las Vegas Strip, which was down 14.9 percent over March 2011.
Casinos statewide brought in $854.6 million from gamblers in March, just over $100 million less than in March a year ago.
The decline comes after the Nevada gaming industry reported gains of 18.4 percent in January and 5.7 percent in February.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said he was still awaiting full details on the March report, but noted the state is ahead for the fiscal year even with a slow month.
“Of course we want to see numbers going up, but in the big picture this is one month in time, and that for the year we’re still ahead,” he said. “We’re going to have some ups and downs with regard to this but over all Nevada is strong and we’re doing well.”
All the major Clark County markets were down in March. Downtown was off 11.9 percent and North Las Vegas was down 17.8 percent.
Washoe County fared better, posting a modest 0.45 percent gain, but South Lake Tahoe was also down in March, by 14 percent.
A big part of the story was that gamblers were luckier than usual in March, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board. The percentage of money wagered by players but “held” by casinos was lower than average on games and tables such as 21 and roulette, he said.
If the March hold had matched the 12 month average hold, the statewide win would be down only 3.4 percent. The Strip would be down only 4.2 percent.
Another factor in the Strip numbers was baccarat, the card game played by high rollers. Casinos won $39.8 million from baccarat players in March, a nearly 52 percent decline from March 2011. The volume of play was down and the hold percentage was lower than average, Lawton said.
“The gamblers ran a little bit luckier,” he said.
Another factor was that March 2012 is being compared to March 2011, which saw a 5.1 percent statewide gaming win and a 12.9 percent gain on the Strip.
A third was the CONEXPO-CON/AGG event in Las Vegas in March of 2011 that is only held every three years and so did not occur this year, Lawton said.
“So there were some things that added to why this was going to be a struggle,” he said. “Even with this, fiscal year-to-date the state is still up 2.2 percent,” he said. “And it was a strong quarter for the state. The state was up 4 percent for the quarter.
“My take is it’s a bump in the road,” Lawton said. “We had a strong quarter. We had five consecutive months of growth. The fundamentals were still there. Our volumes were still up in slots. Our total volume was still up when you combine tables and slots together. We just had a soft month when we look at those table games hold percentages.”
Gov. Brian Sandoval says it is only one month and that the win is still up for the year:
Sandoval says Nevada overall is strong:
Gaming analyst Michael Lawton says Nevada is up 4 percent for the first quarter:
Lawton says the March report is a bump in the road: