Casinos' precipitous slide worsens in 2009

Nevada casinos lost $6.7 billion in fiscal 2009, according to The Nevada Gaming Control Board's annual Gaming Abstract. 

Much of the loss came from the $5.9 billion drop in property values over the year.

Although Gaming Control Board Analyst Frank Streshley described it as a "paper loss," he said the numbers are sobering when you consider that the all-time record net income for Nevada casinos was $2.29 billion just two years ago. That fell to $721.2 million fiscal 2008.

The only other year in which casinos reported an annual loss was 2002, which included the period after 9/11.

Most other categories were down from the year before, Streshley said. There are six fewer casinos on the list of properties reporting $1 million or more in gaming win than there were the year before.

Gaming revenue fell nearly 13 percent to $10.5 billion and, with lower room rates and occupancy, room revenues were down 16.6 percent to $4.3 billion. Food revenue was down more than 9 percent to $3.2 billion but beverages, Streshley said, held up very well, dropping just a third of a percent. Beverages, however, account for only $1.3 billion of total revenues.

The industry lost about 25,000 employees during the year with average total employment falling to 177,397.

The most serious losses were reported by the five Tahoe casinos at South Shore in Douglas County - a total of $259.6 million from $427.7 million in revenue.

In the Carson Valley Area, which includes Carson City and the valley portions of Douglas, 14 casinos lost $8.68 million as total revenues fell to $154.5 million.

The area also reported a dip in total average employment from 2,894 to 2,163 - a loss of more than 700 jobs. It was the Carson Valley Area's third year of red ink in a row.

The 32 casinos in Washoe County had a combined net loss of $47.4 million from revenues totaling $1.6 billion. That is a drop of more than $100 million compared to the $63.5 million gain the year before.

Clark County's 149 casinos had a combined loss of $6.5 billion from $19.2 billion in revenues.

Statewide, the losses came despite the fact casinos reduced their sales and departmental expenses by $900 million. Interest expense, however, went up by more than $600 million in 2009 as numerous casino operators refinanced their outstanding loans.

The only bright spots were Elko County and the "balance of the state" category which includes all of rural Nevada except Elko. In Elko, 18 casinos reported a combined income of $36.2 million. In the balance of the state, 42 casinos earned $9.5 million in net income.


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