CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos raked in $859.2 million from gamblers in August, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a modest 3.1 percent revenue decline over August 2011, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.
Clark County was down 3.4 percent with $727 million in revenues, but the Strip was off only 1.2 percent with $490.9 million taken in on table games and slots.
Other Clark County markets saw bigger declines, including downtown Las Vegas, off 8.4 percent; North Las Vegas, down 13.1 percent; and the Boulder Strip, off 17.7 percent.
Washoe County saw a 5.1 percent increase with $68.1 million in revenues, but South Lake Tahoe was down 19.5 percent with $22 million in winnings.
The modest decline comes after a $1 billion, 17 percent gain in July.
The decline came as Las Vegas saw an increase in visitation in August, up 1.5 percent to 3.34 million visitors, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency, said a timing issue with slot machine revenue was a factor in the lackluster August report, which happens when a month ends on a weekend and some revenue is actually reported in a different month.
July 2012 slot win was inflated by 8.6 percent because July 2011 had the last weekend’s revenues roll into August, he said. As a result, August 2012 was down 7.8 percent in slot revenue compared to the higher revenue numbers reported in August 2011.
But the August report would have been much worse if it had not been for baccarat play on the Strip, Lawton said.
“Baccarat had a really strong month, being up $28 million, or 29 percent,” he said. “Volumes for baccarat were strong, up 29.6 percent or $237.6 million. So usually when we see a month like that where baccarat was so strong we expect to see a positive month. But then, like I said, there was some underlying issues with slot accounting that kind of came into play and that’s why the month wasn’t positive.”
The August Strip win would have been off by 9 percent, or $29.9 million, without the baccarat performance, Lawton said.
“Baccarat is really keeping the Strip’s head above water,” he said.
The metric on the Strip that is of concern is slot volume, which was down in August for a fifth consecutive month.
“And prior to these five declines we actually had experienced 11 increases in the prior 13 months,” Lawton said. “So, definitely seeing some loss of traction in that slot spend. And calendar year to date, slot volume on the Strip is down 1.8 percent.”
The recent declines suggest the Las Vegas mass market customer is not spending as much right now, he said.
Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, says baccarat play helped make August a better month than it would have been otherwise:
Lawton says recent declines in slot volume on the Strip are a concern: