State up; Carson area falls |

State up; Carson area falls

by Geoff Dornan

State gaming analysts have reason to believe that the average gambler is returning to the slot machine.

In 2011, Nevada casinos won 1.5 percent more on slots than in 2010. On the back of that increase, casinos reported a 2.8 percent increase in gaming revenue, or “win,” for 2011 over the previous year.

The $10.7 billion total still was well below the industry’s peak years, 2006 and 2007, both of which were above $12 billion.

Slot revenue accounts for 63 percent of the total gaming win. Game and table win, which depends more heavily on high-rollers, was up more than 5 percent in each of the last two calendar years.

Gaming Control Board analyst Mike Lawton said revenue from baccarat and other games was up just seven-tenths of a percent in the second half of 2011, while slot play was up 1.6 percent.

The total wagered on games and slots hit $138.7 billion in 2010, of which $107.6 billion came from slots. Lawton said that is the first increase in slot volume since 2006.

“The recovery on the Strip is spilling over into local markets,” but only in Southern Nevada, he said.

In the north, it was a different story.

The Carson Valley Area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County as well as the capital, reported total gaming revenue down 1.1 percent in 2011 to $100.6 million. Slot win accounts for nearly $94 million of that total and was down seven-tenths of a percent. Game and table play was down 6.2 percent to $6.8 million. The total amount wagered in the area’s slots was down $19 million for the year to $1.75 billion.

North Shore casinos at Tahoe were hard hit in 2011, taking in $25.87 million – 7.3 percent less than they did in 2010.

By comparison, South Shore casinos at Stateline did well, dropping only 1 percent from total gaming revenue in 2010 to $209.5 million. But the total win at South Shore is the seventh consecutive decline and the lowest total since the state started keeping records in 1984.

Reno was down 3.9 percent to a total win of $539.8 million. Sparks reported a 1.1 percent increase to $123.4 million.

Those numbers are indicative of Washoe County’s continuing slide as a gaming destination. The county produced 14.9 percent of the state total in 1990, but that’s dropped to just 7 percent. The total Washoe win for the year, $702.7 million, is the lowest total since 1987.

The problem from the Tahoe basin through Washoe County’s markets is the intense competition from Indian casinos in Northern California.

After Sparks, Churchill County was the other bright spot in the north, with a total win of $20.64 million, an increase of 2.32 percent over 2010. A 10.4 percent decrease in game and table win was more than offset by the 2.76 percent increase in slot win. The vast majority of Churchill’s gaming win comes from slots.

Statewide, Nevada’s major resorts finished December pretty much in line with the whole year, reporting just over 2 percent growth for a total win of $855.7 million. That included a 4.92 percent increase in the Carson Valley Area and a 10.24 percent increase in Washoe County. North Shore also did well in December, reporting a 4.46 percent increase to $2.25 million.