For the third straight year, casino gambling revenue in the state of Nevada saw a noticeable year-end increase, reaching $10.86 billion in 2012, an increase of 1.5 percent from the 2011 figure. While that 1.5 percent may look incremental in the bigger scheme of things, it still is a gradual step in the right direction as the state tries to recover and regain their revenue figures before the 2008 recession.
Michael Lawton, a senior analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the 2012 numbers are still a ways away from what the state used to earn in the past, but the steady growth, incremental as it may look, is still something to be optimistic about. “We are slowly increasing revenues,” Lawton said. “We are still 15.5 percent below the peak in 2007, but we are gradually moving in the right direction.”
Different areas in the state each reported increased revenue across the board with only a few exceptions. The Strip, where most of the state’s biggest casinos are located, collected a total of $6.2 billion for the year, making it the second year in a row that number breached that $6 billion mark. More importantly, that $6.2 billion figure represented a 2.3 percent increase from their 2011 figure.
Downtown Las Vegas also reported steady gains for 2012, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2011 to the $509.14 million in revenue earned last year. Likewise, Clark County also had positive results for the 2012 with six of the seven reporting areas showing marked improvements in 2012. The only exception was Laughlin, which posted a 0.6 percent drop from their 2011 numbers, finishing 2012 at “just” $462.06 million.
Of the multitude of gambling options being offered in the state’s casinos, analysts have pointed to the growing popularity of baccarat play as the biggest driving force in the increased earnings, accounting for 12.7 percent of the $10.8 billion in revenues earned by the state. Back in 2003, that percentage was merely 3.8 percent, showing that the game is becoming one of the more popular gambling options in the state. “We’ve been seeing an increase in baccarat (revenue) ever since our operators began doing business in Macau,” Lawton commented.
The state casinos’ performance in December of 2012 also helped in driving up that year-end casino gambling revenue after earning $943 million for the month, a 10-percent improvement from its figures a year ago. Leading the way, as expected, were the casinos located in the Strip, who, accounted for $588 million of the total, up 13.5 percent from the same period last year. Likewise, Clark County also showed significant improvements with their gaming revenues, up 11.2 percent for the entire month of December compared to their 2011 figures. Downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas also boasted of their own revenue upticks for December 2012, reporting $36.9 million and $19.3 million in gambling revenue, respectively.
With a seemingly healthy run of revenue increases in the past years, Joseph Greff, an analyst with J.P. Morgan, told the LVJR to still exercise a level of caution as it relates to these improving numbers, even going so far as to point out that the impressive December results were helped by the “timing of the Christmas and New Years Eve holidays”. Casino gaming revenues, at least according to Greff, will still reflect “continued uneven recovery on the Strip, with some positives and some negatives.”