Posts Tagged ‘Michael Lawton’

Nevada Casinos Eke Out Another Modest Gain In October

By Sean Whaley | 11:49 am December 7th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos took in $978.8 million from gamblers in October, eking out a modest 1.9 percent increase over the same month in 2011, the Gaming Control Board reported today. It was the third consecutive month of modest gaming wins for the state.

For the 2013 fiscal year that began July 1, the gaming win has increased 4.6 percent.

The October increase was primarily due to a 3.6 percent gain on the Las Vegas Strip, where casinos pulled in $580.7 million. Clark County overall was up 2.8 percent, while South Lake Tahoe posted a 0.8 percent gain with $15.9 million in revenues.

Photo: Conor Ogle via Wikimedia Commons.

But many other markets in Nevada posted declines in October, including Laughlin, down 0.9 percent; Reno, down 6.9 percent; and the Carson Valley area including Carson City, down 5.5 percent.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency, said he was pleasantly surprised by the modest increase because October faced a tough comparison against a strong October 2011, and there were two fewer weekend days in October 2012 than in October 2011.

Helping out the overall win were two Madonna concerts at the MGM Grand on Oct. 13 and 14.

There was also a technical benefit with September ending on a weekend, which meant that some slot revenue from that month was counted in October instead, he said.

Visitor volume in Las Vegas also increased in October, up 2.9 percent to 3.5 million visitors, according to information provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Game and table win statewide totaled $364.9 million, down 5.5 percent over October 2011, which had seen a strong gain of 14.4 percent over October 2010.

Lawton said one note of interest was an all-time record win for roulette of $50.8 million for a 174.2 percent increase over October 2011. The previous high was set in December of 2007 when the roulette take was $38.3 million.

Slot win statewide totaled $614 million for an increase of 6.8 percent over October 2011.

“I would say honestly, going into this month, I am pleasantly surprised that with the difficult comp and the calendar, losing the two weekend days – I mean although we did basically get help with the revenue timing – it was a difficult comp and to come in positive is definitely a good sign,” Lawton said.

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Audio clips:

Gaming analyst Michael Lawton says Nevada saw a record roulette win in October:

120712Lawton1 :23 strong roulette month.”

Lawton says the win increase in October is a good sign given the difficult comparison with October 2011:

120712Lawton2 :18 a good sign.”

 

Nevada Casinos Report Modest Decline In August Revenue Report

By Sean Whaley | 12:58 pm October 10th, 2012

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.

Image courtesy of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

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.

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Audio clips:

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:

101012Lawton1 :24 month wasn’t positive.”

Lawton says recent declines in slot volume on the Strip are a concern:

101012Lawton2 :35 down 1.8 percent.”

 

Nevada Gaming Win Exceeds $1 Billion In July, Up 17 Percent Statewide

By Sean Whaley | 2:01 pm September 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos had an impressive month in July, taking in just over $1 billion in revenue from gamblers for a 17 percent gain over July 2011, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

It was the second $1 billion month this calendar year, which has not occurred in Nevada since 2008, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency.

“A $1 billion month is a number that we like to see, it’s a very strong number,” he said.

The Las Vegas Strip was up 27.5 percent with revenues totaling $597.5 million, according to the monthly gaming report.

The solid performance comes after two months of declines for the gaming industry statewide.

Baccarat, the card game played by high rollers on the Strip, was the major factor in the big win.

Photo by Roland Scheicher via Wikimedia Commons.

Baccarat win totaled $189.9 million, up 111.8 percent  or $100.2 million. The dramatic numbers are due in large part to the amount “held” or won from the card players, Lawton said. The hold was 16.03 percent versus 9.76 percent in July 2011. The normal hold is in the mid-12 percent range.

But the amount wagered by players was up as well, which is encouraging, he said. Baccarat volume was $1.2 billion, up $266 million, or 28.9 percent.

“We we’re pretty surprised,” Lawton said. “That’s the third largest baccarat win in state history.”

Slot play was up in July as well, by 8.6 percent, or $46.9 million, over July 2011, he said.

Nearly all Clark County markets were up in July, with downtown Las Vegas reporting a 16.4 percent gain, North Las Vegas reporting a 36.1 percent gain, and the Boulder Strip showing a 17.3 percent increase. Laughlin was down modestly by 0.5 percent.

The big win comes even as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported a slight decline in visitor volume in July, down 0.8 percent over July 2011 to 3.44 million.

“We want to see a nice blend of our baccarat business and our mass market business and right now, baccarat is carrying a little bit more load,” he said. “But there’s some easier comps in the back half of this year that we think, hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll see a better blend than we are right now.”

The rest of the state did not perform as well. Washoe County showed an 8.2 percent decline with $64.9 million in revenues. All of the Washoe markets reported declines in July.

South Lake Tahoe was also down, by 0.6 percent, but Lawton said the comparison for the market was tough this past July, with a 25 percent increase in July 2011 over July 2010. So the slight decline is actually a strong performance for the market, he said.

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Audio clips:

Gaming analyst Michael Lawton says a $1 billion month is a strong number:

091012Lawton1 :22 very strong number.”

Lawton says baccarat drove the numbers:

091012Lawton2 :19 up 14.1 percent.”

Lawton says the state would like to see a better balance between baccarat and the mass market:

091012Lawton3 :14 are right now.”

 

 

Nevada Gaming Win Plummets In May By Double Digits, Down 18.2 Percent on Strip

By Sean Whaley | 4:34 pm July 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada gaming revenues took a big tumble in May, shrinking by nearly $100 million over the same month a year ago to $885 million for a 10.1 percent decline, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, cited two primary reasons for the double-digit decline: May 2011 was an exceptionally strong month, so the comparison with May 2012 was expected to be a challenge; and high roller card players on the Las Vegas Strip had exceptionally good luck.

The two factors led to an 18.2 percent revenue decline on the Strip to $475.1 million in May over May 2011.

The decline came even as a number of strong special events, including the Chinese Labor Day celebration and a Floyd Mayweather fight versus Miguel Cotto on May 5, lured visitors to Nevada and the Strip in particular.

The “comp” to May 2011 was a challenge because the May 2011 statewide win was 16.1 percent, and the Strip was up 28.9 percent. May 2011 also saw the largest win recorded by the state since September 2008. Since May 2011, there has been only one month where the win exceeded that amount, in January 2012.

Lucky gamblers were the other factor.

“The state was definitely negatively impacted by some really, really poor performance in table games,” Lawton said. “Table games win of $282.7 million was down 26.4 percent, or $101.6 million.”

Baccarat win of $74.3 million was down 48 percent, or $68.5 million in May compared to May 2011. The hold on the game, or the amount retained by the casino out of all the money wagered, was only 8.1 percent versus 12.2 percent last year.

“We don’t normally expect to see single-digit hold percentages for baccarat,” he said.

The hold was low on 21, the other big card game, as well, Lawton said. The win was $72.4 million, down 29 percent, or $29.5 million. The hold was 8.6 percent, versus nearly 12 percent in May 2011. It was the lowest 21 hold percentage ever seen going back to the 1980s, he said.

“We really noticed some statistical anomalies with these table games, and that happens,” Lawton said. “The table games are a lot more volatile than the slot machines. And every once in awhile you will have months where this happens. It’s just unfortunate on a month when the comparison was so difficult.”

There were some bits of good news in the monthly report and in related information. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported today that visitor volume was up in May, by 2.4 percent to 3.45 million visitors over May 2011.

And some smaller casino markets fared well, including a 20.1 percent gain in Laughlin and a 9.2 percent increase on the Boulder Strip. Downtown Las Vegas was down, but only by 2.1 percent.

Washoe County was down 5.2 percent, a better performance than the state overall.

“The Las Vegas locals had a good month, up 6.59 percent, which is good,” Lawton said. “For the calendar year the Las Vegas local markets are up 5.43 percent.”

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Audio clips:

Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton says poor performance in table games was a major factor in the May decline:

071212Lawton1 :14 or $101.6 million.”

Lawton says table games are more volatile than slot machines:

071212Lawton2 :27 was so difficult.”

 

 

Nevada Gaming Win Rebounds In April Due To Strength In Clark County

By Sean Whaley | 11:38 am June 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s casinos returned to their winning ways in April, posting a statewide total win of $855.7 million for a 6.2 percent gain over April 2011, the Gaming Control Board reported today.

Clark County overall was up 8.9 percent in April to $743.7 million while the rest of the state did not fare as well. Washoe County was down 15.5 percent, South Lake Tahoe was down 4.4 percent and Elko County was down 2.3 percent.

One reason for the positive overall report was technical in nature, however. Because March ended on a Saturday, some of the slot machine revenue from that day did not get tallied until the following month, skewing the April totals.

But the win, coming after a double-digit decline in March, is the sixth positive month out of the past seven and is welcome news, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board.

“March was kind of a bump in the road,” he said. “(We) got back on track this month. Next month might be a little bit different, we’ve got a really tough comp for May.”

For the fiscal year from July 1, 2011 to April 30, statewide gaming win is up 2.5 percent.

The win comes even as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority today reported a slight decline in visitor volume in April, the first in more than two years. Volume fell by 0.9 percent to 3,324,459.

All major Clark County markets posted gains in April, including the Strip, up 7.5 percent; downtown Las Vegas, up a strong 25 percent; and North Las Vegas, up an impressive 42.3 percent.

North Las Vegas was affected by the additional slot revenue counted from March, while downtown Las Vegas was up due in part to the reopening of the Plaza Hotel and Casino after an extensive renovation.

Downtown Las Vegas is up 4.5 percent fiscal year to date, a positive sign for a market that has not had a positive fiscal year since 2005, Lawton said.

Downtown Las Vegas. / Photo: John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons.

The Strip win came despite a modest 2.9 percent gain on table games. Baccarat was up nearly 16 percent to $65.7 million, but twenty-one was down 5.2 percent to $58.8 million. The Strip did much better with slot machine revenues, which were up 12.1 percent to $249 million.

Again, the extra revenue reported from March was a factor in the Strip slot revenue number.

Lawton said when a monthly report has such a reporting anomaly it is better to look at the fiscal year overall. The combined Las Vegas local markets, for example, are up 5.1 percent for the calendar year to date, he said.

“So they are definitely moving in the right direction,” Lawton said.

May will be a tougher month for the industry to post a win, due in part to the big gains posted in May 2011 when both the statewide and Strip wins were up by double digits, he said.

But there were some big events in Las Vegas in May, so, “you never know,” he said.

“We’ll take the slot anomaly and we’ll deal with it next month,” Lawton said.

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Audio clips:

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, says the state got back on track in April:

061212Lawton1 :23 month, next month.”

Lawton says numbers over the past several months are showing positive signs:

061212Lawton2 :22 the right direction.”

 

Lucky Gamblers Help Push Nevada’s Gaming Win Down In March

By Sean Whaley | 1:57 pm May 10th, 2012

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.

Photo by Quenot via Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it is only one month and that the win is still up for the year:

051012Sandoval1 :07 we’re still ahead.”

Sandoval says Nevada overall is strong:

051012Sandoval2 :05 we’re doing well.”

Gaming analyst Michael Lawton says Nevada is up 4 percent for the first quarter:

051012Lawton1 :10 for the quarter.”

Lawton says the March report is a bump in the road:

051012Lawton2 :21 games hold percentages.”

 

 

February Gaming Win Up 5.7 Percent With Strength Seen Across All Major Markets

By Sean Whaley | 12:05 pm April 10th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos won $932.2 million in February for a 5.7 percent gain over the same month in 2011, even without the Chinese New Year event that annually brings high rollers to the Las Vegas Strip, the Gaming Control Board reported today.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, said the February win was solid and seen across the state. Only three small markets showed declines in the monthly report.

The Strip was up 3.3 percent with a win of $530.7 million.

Photo by Antoine Taveneaux via Wikimedia Commons.

The gains came even though the Chinese New Year fell in January this year. The January gaming win topped $1 billion, the first time that milestone has been reached since September 2008.

“This month, really what it shows, is that core customer really was strong,” Lawton said.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported today that visitor volume in February was up 6.4 percent over February 2011. Convention attendance was up by more than 23 percent. Air traffic was up 6.6 percent.

All these numbers helped the state overcome the lack of the Chinese New Year in February, he said.

Looking at the Strip without baccarat, all gaming volumes are up for the fiscal year and in February as well, Lawton said. Slot volume on the Strip has seen increases in 10 of the last 12 months.

“So those are the things we’ve been looking for all along, is that, OK, baccarat has been carrying the load,” he said. “We need the core customer to come back and have this nice blend of the two and that is kind of what we’re experiencing now. So it’s good.”

Lawton said there is a lot of good news in the February report.

“That’s now five consecutive monthly increases for the state; we haven’t seen that since 2006,” he said. “I mean the list goes on and on. There is just a lot of positives that we can draw from this month’s results.”

The gaming percentage fee tax collections, which help fund the state budget, are now up $10.8 million over what was forecast by the Economic Forum.

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Audio clips:

Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton says the February results show the core customer was strong:

041012Lawton1 :23 Chinese New Year.”

Lawton says the statewide strength is what the gaming industry has been waiting for:

041012Lawton2 :13 So it’s good.”

Lawton says the state has now seen five consecutive monthly gaming wins:

041012Lawton3 :12 this month’s results.”

 

Chinese New Year Brings Huge Win To Nevada Gaming Industry In January

By Sean Whaley | 1:53 pm March 8th, 2012

CARSON CITY – It was the month the Nevada gaming industry and state political leaders were waiting for: the casino industry won more than $1 billion from gamblers in January, a double-digit rise fueled by a nearly 30 percent increase on the Las Vegas Strip.

The reason:  The Chinese New Year came in January instead of February this year. The celebration, which brings high rollers into Nevada’s casinos, ran from Jan. 23 to 29.

Photo by Mai-Linh Đoàn via Wikimedia Commons.

Nevada casinos brought in $1.04 billion in January compared to January 2011, an 18.4 percent increase even though much of the northern part of the state posted negative numbers, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

“This is the first time the state has recorded $1 billion in win since September of 2008,” said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board. “That’s four consecutive increases the state has experienced, that’s the first time since April through July of 2007. Also, the Southern Nevada markets, every market was in positive territory. That hasn’t happened since September of 2007.”

A big part of the reason was a huge win from baccarat play on the Las Vegas Strip. The card game played by high rollers brought in nearly $195 million for an impressive 199 percent increase over January 2011. The baccarat win was the second largest ever recorded in the state.

The total gaming win on the Strip was $623.5 million, a 29.2 percent increase over January 2011.

Downtown Las Vegas saw a 13.7 percent increase, North Las Vegas was up 15.6 percent and Laughlin saw a 6.3 percent jump in January.

The big driver in the statewide increase was in game and table win, which brought in $435 million, an increase of 50.1 percent, Lawton said. That is the third largest statewide win from games and tables, which includes baccarat, for any month, he said.

“The bottom line the state won $1 billion in gaming revenue and that hasn’t happened since September 2008 so it was a very, very good month,” Lawton said.

The expectation is that the February gaming numbers will be strong as well and may show an increase over February 2011 even without the Chinese New Year celebration, he said. The February numbers will be driven in large part by the Super Bowl.

The story was different in Washoe County, which saw an overall gaming win of $53.7 million for a 6.2 percent decline over January 2011. Reno was down by 8.6 percent and Sparks was off by 0.4 percent. The Carson Valley area, which includes the capital, was down 3.7 percent.

Lawton said operators indicated that the weather was almost too nice in January, allowing people who might come to the casinos to play golf or pursue other activities instead.

Gaming  tax collections, which the state relies heavily on to fund services, did not track with the overall gaming win but Lawton said that is due to credit extended to gamblers in January.

Gaming taxes collected from the win amount actually declined in January 2012 over the prior year by 16.5 percent, bringing in $57.4 million. For Fiscal Year 2012 through January, tax collections are 2 percent below the prior year.

But Lawton said the low tax collection numbers will improve significantly in February, when the credit extended by casinos to high rollers is collected.

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Audio clips:

Gaming control board analyst Michael Lawton says January is the first $1 billion win since September of 2008:

030812Lawton1 :23 September of 2007.”

Lawton says the bottom line is January was a very good month:

030812Lawton2 :09 very good month.”

Lawton says game and table win, with baccarat, drove the numbers:

030812Lawton3 :12 or $129.7 million.”

Lawton says February 2012 could show an increase even without the Chinese New Year festivities:

030812Lawton4 :19 to last February.”

 

Nevada Casinos Eke Out Modest Revenue Gain In December, Up 2.8 Percent For All Of 2011

By Sean Whaley | 3:04 pm February 9th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s casinos brought in $855.7 million in gaming revenue in December 2011 for a 2.1 percent gain over the same month in 2010, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

The Las Vegas Strip saw a 3.6 percent gain, bringing in $518.4 million.

Las Vegas Strip. / Photo by Antoine Taveneaux via Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, said a positive element of the December report is that for the first time since September of 2007, baccarat win declined but the industry still reported a revenue gain. This is a sign that the mass market visitor volume is improving, he said.

Baccarat, the card game played by high rollers, was down 4.5 percent, or $7.2 million, on flat volume.

A number of Clark County markets reported revenue declines in December, including downtown Las Vegas, which was off 10.7 percent; North Las Vegas, down 11.4 percent; Laughlin, down 8.3 percent; and the Boulder Strip, off 7.4 percent.

Washoe County, on the other hand, reported a double digit gain to 10.2 percent, bringing in $58.5 million over the holiday month. Lawton said the good weather in December 2011 compared to December 2010 was a major reason cited for the positive report.

Though modest, casinos finished the year on a positive note.

“We finished the year with three consecutive increases so hopefully we can carry that momentum into 2012,” he said.

Visitor volume to Las Vegas in December grew by 2.5 percent to 2.96 million, according to information from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. For calendar year 2011, volume was up 4.3 percent to 38.9 million.

For the full 2011 calendar year, Nevada’s non-restricted gaming licensees reported total gaming win of $10.7 billion. This amounts to a 2.8 percent increase compared to calendar year 2010, which increased 0.1 percent.

It was the second year of increases after declines in calendar years 2008 and 2009.

Slot win increased 1.5 percent in 2011 after decreasing 2.7 percent in 2010. Game and table win increased 5.2 percent in 2011, following a 5.6 percent increase last year. Over the ten-year period from 2002 to 2011, total win growth has averaged 1.5 percent with growth in slot win averaging 1.1 percent and game and table win growth averaging 2.2 percent.

“When we analyze these numbers I think what we can take away from the calendar year is that it’s not robust growth, it’s small growth but it’s a lot broader growth than what we experienced last year (2010),” Lawton said. “Last year the only major market to post an increase was the Strip, which basically caused Clark County to post an increase. But this year in Southern Nevada the only market to have a decrease was Laughlin, which was down 3.7 percent.”

Across the entire state there were 10 markets that experienced positive growth in 2011, he said.

Gaming revenues were up in 2011 even when the baccarat factor is removed, suggesting a good balance between the small number of high spending card players and the larger number of typical mass market visitors, Lawton said.

“Slot volume was up 0.4 percent, that’s the first increase we’ve seen in slot volume since calendar year 2006,” he said. “So those are all really good metrics to identify or illustrate that the recovery is broader.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that if things continue to go the way they are with increased visitation and large conventions and the heavy event calendar, we feel pretty confident that even though we have some difficult baccarat comparisons to come up against, we’re finally starting to see that mass market customer blend nicely and complement the baccarat growth that we’ve experienced,” Lawton said.

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Audio clips:

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the control board, says calendar year 2011 growth is broader than in 2010:

020912Lawton1 :26 down 3.7 percent.”

Lawton says the metrics show the recovery is broader:

020912Lawton2 :13 recovery is broader.”

Lawton says the agency is cautiously optimistic that the mass market visitor volume is improving:

020912Lawton3 :25 that we’ve experienced.”

Lawton says mass market play is now complementing baccarat play:

020912Lawton4 :19 complement baccarat play.”

Nevada Tax Collections Remain On Track Overall Despite Gaming Volatility

By Sean Whaley | 4:38 pm December 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Despite ongoing volatility in Nevada’s gaming industry, strong consumer buying is helping to keep the state’s tax revenues on an even keel four months into the new two-year budget, state officials say.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Government via Wikimedia Commons.

Nevada’s taxable sales increased by more than 10 percent in September, the first double-digit gain seen in the report since December 2010, which was helped by a large natural gas pipeline project in Northern Nevada. Before that, the last double-digit gain came in February 2006.

Car sales were up 9.4 percent in the September report, while business at bars and restaurants was up 14.5 percent and the accommodations category was up 21.6 percent.

Compared to the May 2011 Economic Forum projections, the general fund portion of the sales and use taxes is about 1.45 percent or $2.9 million above their forecast for fiscal year 2012 through September, according to the Nevada Department of Taxation.

Gaming revenues have been a disappointment, however, due largely to the influence the card game baccarat, played by high rollers on the Las Vegas Strip, has had on the monthly casino win.

The September gaming win was down 5.9 percent compared to September 2010 due in large part to baccarat.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, said gaming percentage fee tax collections so far this fiscal year are 7.4 percent, or nearly $16 million, below the forum projections made in May.

The live entertainment tax collected on major casino shows is about $6 million above projections, however, which reflects the increase in visitor volume seen in the casino industry, he said.

“Every indication we get from the operators is that the business models are good,” Lawton said. “Everyone knows visitation is up, hotel revenues are up, air traffic is up. It’s just the volatility of baccarat tends to rear its ugly head. We’re expecting it to come back in, like I said, October and November, to have a couple of strong months to finish off the calendar year.

“We’re only four months in so I don’t think we need to push the panic button yet,” he said.

Nevada state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp said in a statement that overall tax revenues are tracking above projections. The budget office will continue to closely monitor the collections, he said.

“We are very pleased with the increases in sales tax revenues,” Mohlenkamp said. “For fiscal year 2011 we experienced increases of 5.3 percent over fiscal year 2010. Further, sales tax has increased on (a) year-over-year basis for 15 consecutive months and is on track to outpace projections during fiscal year 2012.”

The 2012 fiscal year began July 1. Nevada’s legislatively approved budget runs for two years, through June 30, 2013. Sales and gaming taxes together make up about 58 percent of the revenue needed to support Nevada’s $6.2 billion, two-year general fund budget.

Nevada’s fiscal position appears to mirror that of many other states, according to a new report from the National Association of State Legislatures (NCSL).

The organization’s “State Budget Update: Fall 2011” analysis shows that only four states, California, Missouri, New York and Washington, are reporting a new budget gap since the fiscal year began. Fifteen states had reported budget gaps at this time in 2010.

“Better revenue performance is driving the improvement in state finances,” the report said. “Collections in most states have stabilized or are growing, and the general revenue outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year reflects confidence in continued modest growth.”

The report said of Nevada: “Nevada continues to experience economic challenges related to high unemployment and a weak housing market. Although these conditions have been considered in the state’s revenue forecast for the current biennium, continued weakness in employment could affect sales tax and payroll tax revenues.”

The Nevada Economic Forum, a panel of five financial experts who set the tax projections that must be used to balance the state budget, will meet Dec. 13 to hear an update on the state’s tax collections. It cannot change the projects made in May that were used to finalize the current budget, however.

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Audio clips:

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Gaming Control Board, says baccarat plays a significant role in monthly gaming revenues:

120111Lawton1 :26 the calendar year.”

Lawton says gaming percentage fee collections are down 7.39 percent below forecast:

120111Lawton2 :17 back in May.”

September Gaming Win Down 5.9 Percent Statewide, Baccarat To Blame

By Sean Whaley | 1:13 pm November 9th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s gaming win declined 5.9 percent statewide in September over the same month in 2010, with casinos bringing in nearly $54 million less from gamblers, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

Nevada casinos won nearly $864 million, but nearly every market was down compared to September 2010. Las Vegas Strip casinos brought in $491 million, down 5.7 percent over the same month in the prior year.

One exception was Washoe County, which posted a modest 0.23 percent gain over September 2010.

The report was a disappointment because there were special events in Las Vegas that lured visitors, including a major fight, and the reporting period also had an extra Friday compared to September 2010, said Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. won the Sept. 17 fight against Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority today reported visitor volume increased 5.5 percent in September to 3.29 million. It was the 19th consecutive month of visitor increases.

As usual, baccarat, the card game played by high rollers on the Las Vegas Strip, played a major role in the monthly gaming revenue report.

Despite being the third best September ever for baccarat win at $81.9 million, revenues were down 36.2 percent over September 2010.

“Historically that is a very strong September,” Lawton said of the baccarat win.

Without baccarat factored in, the state win was down only 0.95 percent in September, he said.

Another hit on the monthly revenues came in the sports books, which brought in $20.1 million, down 44.2 percent from September 2010.

For the first three months of the 2011-2012 fiscal year that began July 1, gaming revenues statewide total $2.6 billion, 3.1 percent below the same period in the previous fiscal year.

Gaming tax collections total $199.5 million so far this year, 5.5 percent below the $211 million collected in the same period last fiscal year.

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Audio clips:

Nevada gaming analyst Michael Lawton says baccarat was down 36.2 percent:

110911Lawton1 :09 or $46.4 million.”

Lawton says baccarat played a role in the disappointing September revenue report:

110911Lawton2 :11 down $53.8 million.”