BUSINESS

Nevada casinos surviving on baccarat, penny slots and technology

TAGs: Boyd Gaming, Cantor Gaming, Las Vegas, M Resort and Casino

nevada-penny-slots-baccaratAfter crunching the latest figures from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the Las Vegas Sun determined that penny slots and baccarat are the twin pillars propping up Nevada casinos since the Great Recession bitch-slapped the state’s gaming industry. Penny slots are up 21% since 2007 (the state’s pre-recession peak), delivering $2b in revenues to Nevada’s casinos in 2010. At the other end of the spectrum, high-roller favorite baccarat brought in $1.2b, despite being offered at only about 20 of the state’s gaming establishments. Baccarat also surpassed blackjack as a revenue generator, which is changing the look of the casino floor. Nevada casinos shed 815 blackjack tables over the past decade, while adding 149 baccarat tables.

Over at the sportsbooks, Cantor Gaming CEO Lee Amaitis says mobile in-running bets increased handle at M Resort, Palazzo and The Venetian by $300m last year. (Cantor recently added the Cosmopolitan to its roster.) By allowing casino patrons to wager “when and where they choose” (so long as they’re on casino property) via Cantor’s eDeck mobile tablets, Amaitis believes punters gamble more than if they had to schlep their bone-idle asses all the way down to the betting window. Of course, this only really applies to visitors, as locals can avail themselves of Leroy’s App, the first state-sanctioned mobile sports betting product in America.

However, execs at non-Cantor sportsbooks aren’t as bullish on the eDeck as Amaitis. MGM Resorts’ sportsbook director Jay Rood admitted Cantor’s in-running system was ‘cool’, but questioned its profitability. Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow told the Las Vegas Business Press that Cantor’s impact on the market thus far had been ‘minimal’. Boyd puts far greater stock into the automated electronic kiosks it had situated around casino property during NFL season. “The process is simpler and much less intimidating for those customers who do not want to place a bet at a window.” Yeah, nothing more intimidating than, uh … a window.

Windows may instill terror in the squeamish, but for saner folk, the taxman is infinitely more intimidating. But professional gamblers in the US recently won a victory via a ruling from US Tax Court which declared that travel expenses associated with gambling trips that result in gambling losses are deductible. Gamblers will be allowed to amend their returns for the last three years, but to be clear, this only applies if gambling is your primary source of income. You can try writing off the Jet Blue flight you and your buddies took to Las Vegas in spring break 2009, but don’t blame us when the IRS auditor starts prepping you for an enema.

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