Casino revenues are down

The economic recession continues to weigh heavily on land gambling companies in Nevada, according to the latest official figures reported by Associated Press this week. Casinos in the gambling state suffered their 13th straight month of declines in January 2009, reporting $908.6 million for a 14.6 percent drop compared with January 2008, according to a state report released Tuesday.

Taxes based on the casino win, a major revenue source for the state, were down a staggering 42.3 percent compared with a year ago, the Gaming Control Board reported. So far this fiscal year, those revenues are down 20.3 percent.

"We are seeing a continuation of the very severe downturn in our economy," Control Board analyst Frank Streshley said. "And we're comparing the January figures to a soft month a year ago. That means we're still not at the bottom. We're still in a declining trend and to try to look forward to when things will flatten out is very hard."

Streshley told Associated Press that the big drop in taxes stems in part from credit play during the Chinese New Year celebration at the end of January. Payment of the credit in February should mean improved tax collections in the Control Board's next report a month from now, he added.

The $908.6 million win in January was the amount left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $12.3 billion during the month, including $9.6 billion in slot machine bets and the balance on table games. The betting total is down about 3 percent from a year ago.

The GCB report shows declines during January in most major markets in the state, including the Las Vegas Strip which was down 14.8 percent.

Elsewhere in southern Nevada, Laughlin was off 10.3 percent, downtown Las Vegas declined 22.7 percent, Mesquite was down 15.1 percent, the Boulder Strip was down 23 percent and North Las Vegas was down 11.2 percent.

In northern Nevada, clubs in Washoe County, which takes in Reno, were down 0.02 percent. While that drop was very slight, it was the 19th consecutive month of declines for the area.

Resorts on Lake Tahoe's south shore reported a 23.7 percent decrease in January compared with the same month a year earlier.

A statewide breakdown shows that slots were off 17.5 percent while table games were down 9.2 percent compared with January 2008.

Slots accounted for $579.2 million of the total win. That included $274.5 million won by multidenomination slots, down 10.1 percent. Penny slots were second with a win of $141.2 million, down 0.8 percent.

Live games, including poker, accounted for the balance of the January total. That included $96.2 million won on baccarat, up 17.2 percent; $94.1 million won on blackjack tables, down 11.6 percent; $34.9 million on craps, down 13.7 percent; and $22.1 million on roulette, down 33.6 percent.

Sports books won $7.9 million, down 58.5 percent. Poker games won $12.7 million, down 0.8 percent.

"Win" is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. It represents casino revenue only, not hotel, restaurant or bar revenues.

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