Head-scratching September in NV

The September gaming numbers are out, courtesy of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and I’ve got my analysis of the historical trends up over at gaming.unlv.edu. Here’s the low down:

For the second straight month, Nevada gaming revenues posted a year?over?year increase, but there are still several continuing weaknesses in the overall revenue picture, and the bulk of the gain is confined to Las Vegas. Even where revenues increased, declining slot handle speaks to an on?going decline in demand for slots, which have traditionally accounted for two?thirds or more of the state’s gaming revenues.

Statewide, Revenues ticked up slightly (less than one percent), driven by a healthy increase in both baccarat and sports book revenue. Slot revenue fell, however, despite a small gain in slot hold percentage. More worryingly, slot handle continues to fall, pointing to a continuing weakness, statewide, in the slot market. The sports book gains, as well, might be illusory, since they were due to an astronomical 12.19% hold percentage, which is more than double the historical average. This is not a sign of a major increase in business.

The Las Vegas Strip was responsible for much of the good news, posting a 2.8% gain over September 2009. But a closer look at the numbers gives some pause. Revenues from slot machines fell, despite a higher hold percentage, and most of the table gains were in baccarat, which had a slightly better than usual 13.15% hold percentage. Slot handle fell by about $65 million; table handle increased by about $20. The bottom line is that, though revenues edged up, patrons gambled less in September 2010 than they did in September 2009, a sign that spending patterns have not begun an upward climb, and an indication that non?gaming spending will continue to lag, which will adversely impact employment numbers.

Nevada Gaming Statistics: September Comparison (pdf)

To read more, including an analysis of the Boulder Strip and Washoe County numbers, take a look at the full report (pdf).

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