Nevada casinos had a downer December, with gaming revenue falling 8% to $950.7m. Things were much worse on the Las Vegas Strip, where revenue fell 16.4% to $555.2m thanks to declines in both turnover and win rate at the baccarat tables.
This marks the fifth straight month Strip gaming revenue has declined, while statewide revenue has fallen for four out of the past five months. For 2014 as a whole, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported statewide gaming revenue fell 1.1% from 2013’s figure to just over $11b. Again, the Strip posted a larger decline, falling 2.1% to $6.37b.
December’s baccarat revenue was down 38% year-on-year to $150.2m as win rate dropped four points to 11%. Blackjack revenue rose 9.4% to $89.9m, while roulette brought in $34.8m (+21.4%) and craps earned $30.8m (+2%). The rest of the table games ranked as follows: three-card poker ($12.2m, +2.8%), pai gow poker ($10.2m, +2.5%), mini-baccarat ($3.8m, -63%), let it ride ($3.3m, +10.6%), keno ($2.1m, -6%), pai gow ($1.3m, -1.6%) and bingo ($1m, +92%). Slots revenue was flat at $559m.
Poker games earned $9.2m, down 4.4% year-on-year. The mid-November withdrawal of Ultimate Gaming from the state’s regulated online poker market means the number of licensed operators fell to two: Caesars Interactive Entertainment‘s WSOP.com and SouthPoint’s RealGaming.com. The Nevada Gaming Control Board requires three operators to be actually dealing cards in order to report revenue stats, so there is no December online poker revenue figure to report.
In a recent interview with Vegas Inc., Nevada Gaming Commission chairman Tony Alamo offered a frank assessment of his state’s ability to host a viable online poker market. Alamo said online poker needs liquidity and “we do not have the population base to do it just within our state.” Alamo said Ultimate Gaming’s demise suggested “the writing’s on the wall that it’s very pessimistic right now” unless the federal government were to allow interstate online gaming. “Until you do that, it’s not financially viable.”
Nevada’s sportsbooks did not have a great December, but the books set new records for win ($227m) and handle ($3.9b) in 2014. Football wagers topped $1.74b, of which the books kept $113.7m. In contrast, basketball win fell 8.4% to $54.2m and baseball win fell 27% to $21.2m.
December’s football revenue was down 16.2% to $16m on a 5.8% hold, but the books are up $98m on football since September. December’s basketball numbers were up 22.2% to $8.3m but laggard baseball bettors cashed in $1.5m worth of winners, parlay cards fell 6.9% to $2.6m and the race books dipped 8.4% to just under $3m.