A decade of decline?

This is one of those moment of ambivalence that we all face at some time or another. On one hand, I’m pretty happy to be finished working on the 2009 Nevada gaming breakdown (pdf) and the Nevada Gaming Revenue:Long-term trends report (pdf). On the other, the actual data in those reports aren’t really happy fun reading.

Basically, for 2009, it comes down to just about everything but baccarat did worse. Slot win was down more than 11% for the year, with no signs of real improvement. That’s a problem because while there are 334 locations with slot machines in Nevada, there are only 26 casinos that even have baccarat tables. This means any gains from bacc play accrue to a smaller number of businesses–in reality, we’re talking about maybe a dozen or so casinos that really cater to these high-end players. While the industry as a whole shows signs of life, the 300+ places that don’t offer high-end play are doing just as badly as they were six months ago, at least if the stats are to be believed.

Then there’s the whole “putting all of your eggs in one basket” thing (or “overspecialization,” which is the preferred technical term). But that’s a problem for another time.

Last year, I put up a 5-year trend analysis. This year, I went further back, all the way to the 20th century, to make it a 10-year trend analysis. Here are some highlights:

From 2000-2009, the…
Total number of gambling positions fell by 11.58%. Total casino revenues increased by 8.22%. I don’t know how the overall inflation rate from 2000 to 2009, but thanks to the inflation calculator, I’ve found that “What cost $9,602,586 [the 2000 gaming revenues] in 2000 would cost $11,892,995 in 2008.” So in order for revenues to keep pace with inflation, they should be at about $11.9 billion (or higher–this is in 2008 dollars), not $9.6 billion. That’s bad news for Nevada.

Total number of slots fell from 192,844 to 169,872–nearly a 12% drop. Slot revenues increased by about 10%, again not keeping up with inflation.

There are also about 10 percent fewer table games (with baccarat showing the only real increase) and revenues up by less than 10%.

Both blackjack and craps are showing overall negative trends, with craps revenues off nearly 30% from 2000 numbers. Baccarat had the most impressive gain–winning more than 80% in 2009 than in 2000–but win per table declined. In ten years, the number of tables more than doubled, and play didn’t quite keep up.

Poker showed big gains in both number of tables and revenues, but this doesn’t mean too much to the bottom line. Today, the average poker table makes about $440 in casino revenues a day (plus any ancillary F&B/hotel spend), while the average bacc table makes more than $12,000.

Seeing all of the red ink in the charts is pretty sobering–I’d suggest anyone with a stake in the future of the gaming industry–or the state of Nevada–give them a look, at the very least.

Spread the love