The Gaming Control Board released the December 2010 Gaming Revenue Report today, and I’ve gotten my historical comparison/analysis up. Here’s the executive summary, but you should really click through to see all of the numbers:
As in November, December saw a decline from the previous year’s results, but there were bright spots. Statewide and in most large markets, slot handle was up, meaning that gamblers put more money in slot machines—and won more. Buoyed by the Strip, table win increased statewide, while revenue fell. In general, if slot players respond positively to lower holds by gambling, the future may hold better results.
Statewide, total revenues fell by 2.38% for the month, with a modest (4.47%) gain in table win offsetting a 10.56 drop in table win. As noted above, slot handle inched (+1.06%) up, which is encouraging. The decline in slot hold was found across most denominations, and may be due to casinos responding to customer preferences for lower‐hold machines.
Las Vegas Strip revenues fell by only 0.30%, with a major (10.55%) drop in slot win, due to a substantially lower (‐12.65%) slot hold percentage. Baccarat revenue was just about steady; its last impressive gain was in October, and it is possible that we will not be seeing any more large increases in either baccarat handle or win in the near future. High rollers may not be providing the lift to the state’s gaming industry that they did through much of 2010.
In Downtown Las Vegas, total revenues declined by 4.44%, with slots falling 10.46% despite a slightly higher handle. Table revenues increased, despite a falling handle, because of a higher average hold.
On the Boulder Strip, total revenues fell by a whopping 29.63%, with dramatically lower (‐33.55%)slot hold responsible. Despite the lower hold, total handle fell, and an impressive boost in the amount played (+53.50%) and won (+19.80%) at the tables did not make up for the increase in slot win.
Washoe County revenues declined slightly (‐0.71%), with slot win trending up (+2.75%) on slightly higher hold and a marginally higher handle. Up north, table revenues dipped by 10.76%, at odds with the pattern in Clark County.
Nevada Gaming Statistics: December Comparison (pdf)
I pretty much said everything I needed to say right there, except my little insight about the craps win on the Strip, which superficially looks impressive (up 168%) until you go back and look at the December 2009 total, which was abnormally low due to an extremely low (6.59%) hold percentage. So it’s really a return to normal for craps, not an actual spike in play.
You can see the same thing to a lesser extent when you look at slots on the Strip. The hold percentage came back to normal in December 2010 (more or less) after an extremely high (6.48%) hold in December 2009.
Stuff like that demonstrates why it’s important to look for the bigger patterns, and not just the year-on-year increases. Any two data points can give you some whacky “trends,” but with three or more you’re on solid(er) ground.