Nevada March numbers

The Nevada gaming revenue numbers for March are out. From the LVRJ:

Nevada casino revenues fell by less than 1 percent during March following February's double-digit increase.

State casino operators collected $912.2 million during the month, a decline of 0.66 percent compared with $918.2 million collected from gamblers in March 2009.

via Nevada gaming revenues decline 0.66 percent in March – Business –

Here’s a further breakdown (you can visit the Gaming Revenue Index to see the numbers for yourself):

    – Craps, roulette, and pai gow had major declines (20-30% or so, each)
    – Baccarat win was up 59%, but the hold percentage was well below average
    – Win from sports betting more than doubled, even though the hold percentage (4.87%) is below the theoretical win percentage for a perfectly balanced book. Smart bettors out there.
    – Overall slot win is down, though hold percentage is up (6.70% vs. 6.46%)
    – Pennies were up by 7.75%. Inventory is up about 5%.
    – Big jump in 100 dollar slot win (211.08%), but that’s due to volatility: in March 09, the Franklins held under 3%; this March, they held nearly 9%. In the big picture, it doesn’t mean anything.

Here’s a nifty chart that gives you the context of this March:
Nevada March Gaming Numbers
As you can see, there is some cause for concern. If it wasn’t for the increase in baccarat, we’d be looking at another decline%. Yet again, high-end play has rescued the state. The good news is that the hold percentage was below average, and that the bigger handle shows a real demand. The bad news is that slot handle continues to fall–by about 25% since 2007–which indicates a decreasing demand for broader-based play. This is a problem, since its this kind of play that sustains most casinos and most markets. It’s great that a dozen or so casinos are drawing in the bacc players, but it’s clearly a struggle for everyone else.

Something else of note: table game hold continues to decline. Since these are mostly games of pure chance operating under the same rules, I think this shows that players are pressing their bets less; when they win, they might be taking the money home instead of putting it back into play. A sign of a changed consumer psychology? If so, it suggests that casinos will have to get used to players gambling less per capita, which means they somehow have to find more of them.

If you want a pdf of that chart, it’s from a new report I’ve posted at the Center for Gaming Research: Nevada Gaming Statistics: March Comparison. Check it out.

The trend of the past six months–higher bacc spend, lower for just about everything else–continues to hold. One thing is clear: there is no “V-shaped recovery” in Nevada gaming. The best we can hope for is a “U-shaped” one, with a pretty long bottom. The worst case scenario is the “L-shaped recovery” where things just stay where they are now, with no real growth.

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