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Nevada casinos see 6% drop in gambling revenue in September

A big decline in the play of baccarat, a volatile, high-roller game favored by Asian players, is largely to blame for the decrease in gambling revenue from a year earlier.

November 10, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Nevada casinos won nearly 6% less from gamblers in September than they did during the same month last year, state regulators reported.

The report by Nevada's State Gaming Control Board showed casinos statewide won $864 million from gamblers, $53.8 million less than in September 2010.

Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board, told the Associated Press that a big decline in the play of baccarat, a volatile, high-roller game favored by Asian gamblers, was largely to blame for the decrease.

Baccarat players wagered $647.4 million in September, down $344 million, or 34.7%. Of that, casinos won $81.9 million, a decline of $46.4 million, or 36.2%, Lawton said.

Excluding baccarat, overall statewide winnings fell less than 1%, indicating the industry's main gambling revenue sources — card games, slot machines, roulette — were showing signs of recovery after years of double-digit decreases during the economic downturn.

"That core business is showing strength," Lawton said.

Gambling revenue on the Las Vegas Strip fell 5.7% to $490.9 million. Strip resorts generate about half of total statewide casino revenue.

Casinos in Reno won $48.9 million, a 2.6% increase over September 2010. But South Lake Tahoe casinos, which have struggled with the spread of Indian casinos in California and the recession, saw revenue drop 14.3%.

Gambling-related stocks plunged Wednesday, along with the rest of the world's markets. Shares of MGM Resorts International fell 7.3%, Wynn Resorts dropped 4% and Las Vegas Sands Corp. was down 3.75%. BJK, an exchange-traded fund that holds dozens of gaming stocks, was down 5.1%.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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