Still a decline in US land casinos

But perhaps not as steeply as before

September '09 numbers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show winnings from gamblers at land casinos in the state declined in September for the 21st month in a row.

Land casinos statewide won $911 million from gamblers during the month, a 9 percent decrease compared with the same month in 2008.

Taxes collected on the September revenue totaled $54.3 million, a 14.6 percent decline from the same month a year ago. For the fiscal year that began July 1, the gambling win has decreased 10.3 percent.

The September figure was the amount left in land casino coffers after gamblers wagered $11.6 billion at slot machines and table games, a decline of 4.2 percent from the same month in 2008.

However, taking a positive view, officials noted that the numbers marked the second month in a row where declines have stayed in the single digits.

August posted the first single-digit decline since May, said the Board's analyst, Frank Streshley. September was also the first time since March the statewide casino win exceeded $900 million, he said.

Casino wins on the Las Vegas Strip, which account for about half of all state gambling revenue, fell to $506.4 million, down 3.6 percent, the smallest decline since June 2008.

For all of Clark County, Nevada's population and tourism hub, the casino win fell to $774 million, down 9.3 percent from $853.5 million won in the same month last year.

Streshley opined that the Las Vegas Strip results suggest it will rebound faster than the rest of the state, as the national and international economies begin to show signs of recovery. Smaller local markets, however, will struggle longer, weighed down by Nevada's record 13.3 percent unemployment rate and weak housing market.

In Washoe County, which includes Reno, casino win dropped nearly 6.4 percent to $72.1 million, marking the 27th month of straight declines for that area.

Along Lake Tahoe's south shore, casinos reported a 10.8 percent drop, taking in $21.8 million. Elsewhere, revenue fell 7 percent in Elko County; 15 percent in Churchill County; and 3.9 percent in Douglas County's Carson Valley

New Jersey's Atlantic City land casinos appeared to be displaying a similar improved trend.

October revenue figures showed a slower rate of decline for the nation's second-largest gambling market at around 6.5 percent compared with a year ago. The latest numbers are anm improvement on the double-digit declines that have plagued the region's gambling venues- as much as 20 percent down in March this year.

October results are only slightly worse than the September figures, which showed a 5.8 percent decline.

For October, the Atlantic City land casinos won $323.8 million: $222.4 million at slots and another $101.4 million at table games.

However, there are fears that gambling developments in rival states will further increase competition and negatively impact the New Jersey business. Delaware's casinos will soon offer table games, and Pennsylvania - already a threat with its slot parlours - has similar plans.

"There's more pain coming," said Joe Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey casino consulting firm. "A lot of the bread-and-butter customers are gone forever. That money has gone to casinos in eastern Pennsylvania, and it's not coming back."

Only two of Atlantic City's 11 casinos showed an increase in revenue in October: Caesars Atlantic City, which was up 11.1 percent, and the Showboat Casino Hotel, which was up 11.2 percent.

For the first 10 months of the year, casino revenues are down 13.5 percent compared with last year.

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