Las Vegas Downtown Gaming Markets Shows Resiliency Despite the Financial Crisis

On January 10th, 2009, the Las Vegas downtown gambling market is starting to show a little resolve in these difficult times. After several months of losing profits as players opted to go on the Las Vegas, the downtown area has made a substantial comeback, according to the November casino data released by the state Gaming Control Board. Player losses dropped by sixteen percent on the Las Vegas Strip and fifteen percent statewide but only fell 1.6 percent in downtown Las Vegas. Gambling losses also fell less than two percent in North Las Vegas but unlike the downtown area, that market’s gaming results were supported by the early November opening of the Aliante Casino.

While the month of October’s record decline was widely expected because that same period in 2007 was a record month, Control Board senior research gaming analyst Frank Streshley said that the soft performance in November 2007-where the gambling win was down by 13.9 percent statewide and 19.2 percent on the Las Vegas strip-he was expecting casino win declines in mid-single numbers on a percentage basis, not a double digit casino win decline. He added that he is also confused by the downtown’s gaming performance.

Streshley said that some of it can be credited to chance because downtown sports books won $1.6 million from bettors in November 2008 vs. just $74,000 in same year period. Aside from that, Streshley said that downtown slots revenue was only down by 8.2 percent and revenues from the games of blackjack and craps was bigger compared last year, while most gaming markets statewide posted bigger decline in slots revenues and in blackjack and craps. Streshley said that luck is an important factor.

Statewide, players’ losses-or “gambling win” by the casino industry-totaled $836.8 million in November, down by 14.8 percent from $982.1 million in November 2007. The results, which marked the eleventh straight month of gaming decline, comes on the heels of a big 22.3 percent drop in October. In Clark County, which accounted for eighty-four percent of the statewide gaming total, players’ losses dropped by 15.22 percent to $702.6 million from $828.7 million in November 2007.

On the Las Vegas which accounted for sixty-two percent of the Clark County gaming total, player losses fell sixteen percent to $437.7 million in November 2008 from $521.2 million in November 2007. In Downtown Las Vegas, gambling win slide down by just 1.58 percent to $50 million in November 2008 from $48.8 million in November 2007. For the fiscal year, from July to November, statewide gambling win was $4.67 billion, off $12.9 percent from the same period on 2007. Clark County gambling win was $3.89 billion, off 13.7 percent and Strip gambling win was $2.45 billion, off 14.2 percent.

Gambling win in the Boulder Highway area ($54.9 million) and Laughlin, NV ($41.8 million ) markets in November slide down by 16.3 percent and 18.1 percent respectively. For the fiscal year, the two gaming markets were off 14.6 percent and 11.6 percent respectively.

Gambling taxes collected by the state based on the November gambling win totaled $44.4 million, a twenty-seven percent slide from November 2007. Gambling taxes from June 1st through November 30th totaled $330 million, off approximately 15.4 percent when compared to the same 2007 period.