Nevada land gambling revenues took another hit in March 2009, declining for the fifteenth consecutive month with a drop of 11.6 percent, and the sixth consecutive decline in the double digits, according to the McClatchy Tribune which worked from official figures.
But there was a bright spot that hopefully may be the first light at the end of a long and gruelling tunnel; the decline was the smallest monthly percentage drop in the past six months.
Nevada's total gaming win was $ 918.2 million, compared to $1.038 billion in March 2008. Individual results included Clark County, which fell 9.8 percent, and North Las Vegas which reported a boost of 9.7 percent to $31.9 million, explained by the opening of a new $675 million venue, the Aliante Station.
"The percent decline this month is a sequential improvement from recent months, which is consistent with recent commentary from Las Vegas operators that the market may have begun to stabilize," gaming analyst Robert LaFleur told investors after the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the monthly totals.
On the Strip, casino revenues fell 12.3 percent to $456.1 million (March 2008: $519.8 million) despite the advent of the $2.3 billion Encore last December.
Frank Streshley, chief of the control board's tax and license division, said that casino operators had reported signs indicating some stabilisation in the local market. Apparently meeting and convention cancellations have slowed and advance hotel room bookings have increased, an indication that potential customers are considering trips to Nevada.
"We're still reporting 2004 gaming revenue type numbers, so we have a ways to make up," Streshley said. "Going forward we're going to be comparing numbers where gaming revenues declined in the double-digit range every month. So, it seems we're getting close to the bottom, or very, very close."
However, the Tribune noted that for the first three months of 2009, gaming revenues compared to the first quarter a year ago are down more than 14.7 statewide and almost 17 percent on the Strip.
Gamblers wagered $10 billion on slot machines in March, a decline of 13 percent from a year ago, and $2.2 billion on table games, a drop of 7.8 percent. Together, the total amount wagered has declined by a worrying 12.1 percent.
March statistics included a major event in the opening of the $1 billion M Resort, located in Henderson with its numbers reflecting in the Boulder Strip category. For the month, Boulder Strip reported gaming revenues of $79.4 million, a 4 percent decline which was the second lowest decline in Clark County numbers.
Washoe County recorded its 21st straight month of declining gaming revenues, and was down 23.3 percent, while casinos in Reno were off 26 percent.
Gaming taxes based on March revenues declined 8.7 percent from March 2008, giving the state of Nevada coffers $74.7 million in gaming taxes, compared with $81.8 million in March 2008. Fiscal year to date, gaming tax collections are down by over 15 percent.