Nevada gaming revenues fell for the second consecutive month in September, as fortunate players cut into the expected profits in high-end baccarat and blackjack games. Overall, Silver State casinos took in $901.7 million in gaming revenue for the month, down from $958.9 million during September 2013.
That comes out to a six percent drop for the industry statewide. The fall was even steeper on the Las Vegas Strip, where gaming revenues were down more than 12 percent. That left both the state and the Strip around even for the year: Nevada gaming revenues are down by less than one percent, while the Strip has grown by just under one percent compared to last year.
“The tough couple of months pushed back all the gains,” said Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton. The two down months follow five months in which revenues were up year-over-year.
Baccarat Revenue Slide Causes Decline for Casinos
Strip revenues were down significantly, in large part because of a drop in baccarat revenues. The game is popular among high-stakes gamblers, especially VIP visitors from Asia. Strip casinos made $81.3 million off the game this September, down 29.6 percent compared to the same month in 2013.
While part of that was due to the fact that betting on the game was down 12.5 percent, the casinos were also a bit unlucky, as the hold percentage (the profit the casino makes after paying out winners) was also down significantly this year.
Given how much money goes into baccarat, that loss in revenue made it impossible for the casinos to make up ground elsewhere. But blackjack revenues were also down, with Strip casinos taking in 27.3 percent less revenue from the game than last year. Slots revenues were also in a slump, though analysts said that the fact that wagering was up slightly on the machines is a good sign.
“We view slot [volume] as the most relevant indicator of the strip’s overall health,” said gaming analyst Steven Wieczynsky.
Online Poker Has Worst Month on Record
Perhaps most disappointing, however, were the numbers that came in from the state’s online poker sites. For the month, the three Internet poker rooms brought in just $693,000. That’s down 8.9 percent from last year, and marks the single worst month for the sites since the third poker site, Real Gaming, opened, allowing state regulators to publish revenue figures. It’s also the third consecutive monthly drop for the poker sites, which peaked at over $1 million in revenue in June thanks to an influx of players for the World Series of Poker.
WSOP.com still accounts for about 60 percent of all online poker traffic in Nevada’s regulated market, while Ultimate Poker has most of the remaining market share.
There were bright spots for Nevada’s gaming market, however. Sports betting revenues were up 12.2 percent year over year, and the $44.6 million the state’s casinos made through their sports books was one of the highest totals in state history. And while the overall revenue figures for the industry may have ticked downward over the past two months, many analysts still think that the long-term trends for Las Vegas and Nevada appear positive.
The Silver State’s coffers aren’t complaining, at least: so far in 2014, Nevada has collected $65.8 million in tax revenue from the gaming industry, up 1.9 percent from the same period in 2013.