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April 16, 2014

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Gaming decline in 2008 falls at record level

Downturn gained speed late in the year with no bottom evident

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Justin M. Bowen

Gaming win took a tumble in 2008 in Nevada, with casinos on the Strip posting a 10.6 percent loss.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009 | 10:38 a.m.

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos saw their winnings slide 9.7 percent in 2008, the biggest drop in state history.

There have been only three declines in gaming revenue since 1955 “and this is the worst ever,” said Frank Streshley of the state Gaming Control Board. The other two declines in gaming revenue were a 1.3 percent drop in 2001 and a 0.3 percent decline in 2002.

Casinos on the Strip fell 10.6 percent, the biggest drop since the 1980s in a market that has had an average growth of 5.2 percent in the last decade.

Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said the industry was doing well at the beginning of the year but slumped in last few months.

“People are not sure where the bottom is,” Bible said.

Streshley, senior research specialist for the gaming board, said nobody knows when there will be a turnaround.

For the last seven months, the industry has produced $365.8 million in taxes for the state, down 16.1 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Casinos ended the year on a down note. Streshley said gaming win on the Strip fell 5 percent in the first six months of 2008 and then dropped 15 percent in the second half of 2008.

For 2008, slot win on the Strip fell to $3.2 billion and the game and table win was off 12.5 percent at $2.9 billion.

In the first six months, Streshley said there were high gasoline prices and falling home prices. And in the second half, there was rising unemployment and the troubles in the stock and financial markets.

For the 12 months, the Strip win from the 21 games fell 12.2 percent; craps was off 4.8 percent; roulette was down 9 percent; Baccarat was off 15.8 percent; the win in the sports pool dropped 22 percent. And slot win fell by 8.7 percent.

The Strip, which accounted for 53.1 percent of the gaming win in Nevada in 2007, fell to 52.8 percent.

Downtown Las Vegas casinos reported an 8.1 percent drop to $582.5 million, the third straight year of a decline. Laughlin casinos won $571 million, off 9.5 percent. Casinos in Boulder Strip posted an $839.4 million win, down 10.5 percent -- the first decline ever in this market, said Streshley.

North Las Vegas casinos reported $282.7 million, down 6.7 percent and the balance of Clark County had gross win of $1.3 billion, down 7.2 percent and the first drop ever. Mesquite dropped 12 percent with a win of $143.9 million.

Washoe County casinos for the year fell by 12.8 percent; South Shore Lake Tahoe casinos were off 11 percent; Carson Valley areas dropped 14 percent and Elko County dropped 5.6 percent.

For the Strip in December, the total gaming win at the 41 casinos was $474.2 million, down 23.1 percent. The biggest drop was in Baccarat that recorded a 45.4 percent decline. The only bright spot on the Strip in December was the penny slot machines that posted a 9.1 percent increase in gross win.

Cy Ryan may be reached at (775) 687 5032 or [email protected].

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