Earlier this morning, the Gaming Control Board released the June 2011 Gaming Revenue Report. That's like Christmas morning for gaming numbers geeks. After the jump, I'll share some of the highlights and my analysis.
This was another solid month for most of the state. With revenues up nearly 16%, it would be difficult to see a downside. For much of the past year, increased revenue has come only at the high end--what I labeled the "baccarat recovery"--and via high slot holds. In May, for example, slot handle fell, but slot revenues went up because of higher hold. That doesn't represent an increase in consumer demand or a real growth of the market--in fact, because players will eventually become sensitive to higher holds, it can actually be self-defeating.
But in June 2011, we saw increases in slot handle, not just on the Strip, but across the entire state.
Since most of the folks here are most interested in the Strip, I'll skip ahead to that reporting area. And it's quite a story.
Last June (2010), baccarat players got very, very lucky: Strip bacc hold was only 3.51%; usually it's around 12%. That's when I said a great deal about volatility, which you have a great deal of exposure to with high-end play. That made Strip gaming win exceptionally low, even though the baccarat handle was higher than it had even been in the month.
This June, casinos got slightly lucky, with a baccarat hold of 15.66%. Naturally, casino win went up. But the real story is that baccarat handle was up by 32%, to $684 million or so. Earlier in the year, baccarat handle had started to fall, so it's good news that Strip casinos were able to lure the high rollers back.
But the even better news is that slot handle and table handle, exclusive of baccarat, are up. That speaks to a growing demand for gambling in Strip casinos at both the high and the middle ends of the market. Outside of baccarat, Strip table handle increased by more than 14%, which means that people all over the floor were playing more.
This is good news for Vegas-based gaming companies, particularly those with large exposures to Las Vegas (MGM and CEC, I'm looking in your direction).
If you want all of the numbers, you can check out the state's Gaming Revenue Report or my June Comparison, which includes totals for the past 8 years as well as a summary of what's going on right now. It's interesting to trace the patterns. You can definitely see the drop--but are we on our way back up?
When the numbers first came out, I was skeptical because of the favorable baccarat comparison, but as I went through them I became convinced that this really was a good month for Nevada. If we can string together a quarter of rising slot handle statewide, I'll be ready to declare us in recovery mode.