I always hate doing Nevada gaming numbers because A) it’s redundant with the coverage in the local dailies and B) almost every month you have to trot out the caveat that — as was the case in June — the month went out on a weekend, meaning that there’s unreported slot drop that won’t show up for another 30 days. So it’s a rare month when you’re not having to deal with some form of skewed revenue reportage. Ergo, when you hear that June manifested a 6% drop, partly due to low slot hold, how much credence can you put in that statistic? Carlo Santarelli of Deutsche Bank calls the numbers “stale,” which is somewhat unfair, considering that heavy baccarat losses drove a 32% surge a year ago. But how much do you wanna bet that we’ll see at least a single-digit uptick in July, which ended midweek? Sheesh!
(Update: Visitation rose 2% in June and ADRs were up 8.5%, making me look on the gambling-revenue numbers with even greater skepticism.)
No surprise, the Strip (-4.5%) did better than the state overall, which is par for our slow, shallow trajectory of recovery. 21% more baccarat play still translated into 4% less win. Non-baccarat table revs were flat, however, despite 8% less money dropped. Even a lower slot hold (93%) couldn’t stave off slight declines in handle (-2%) and winnings (-8%). Where accounting quirks may really be creating mischief is in the seesawing, schizoid numbers coming from the locals and drive-in (more like “drive-by”) markets, although Mesquite seems to be on the comeback trail, thanks to Michael Gaughan. April, which ended on a Monday, saw boffo biz for Downtown (+25%), North Las Vegas (+42% [!]) and Boulder Strip (+25%). Flip the script to June and it’s -13%, -26% and -23% for those three jurisdictions, respectively. Extrapolating a larger narrative from these yo-yo-ing stats must drive Dr. David G. Schwartz (above) to deep sighs of exasperation. At least when we look back across 2011, we can see stolid but fairly steady growth, 3% overall.
The Diss of Death went to Lake Tahoe and Reno, both of which Santarelli consigns to the nebulous “Other Nevada” category (up 6%, however). Turning to the generally more sanguine Joseph Greff of J.P. Morgan, we find that those two seasonally driven markets were up 17% and 9%, respectively. But nobody ever reports that most reliable of all economic barometers: Wendover. Like I always say, as Wendover goes, so goes Nevada.
Dark Side of the Force. Has normally customer-friendly Raving Consulting gone over to the Sith Lords? At its annual Casino Marketing Conference, consultant Deb Hilgeman advocated reducing comps for the 99% and increasing them for the 1% … or something broadly along those lines. Incidentally, 1%-oriented Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has widened its loyalty program across all points of sale. Thus, by buying me a Kelly Clarkson T-shirt, my wife got $5 in free slot play. Consequently, I look better and she finally has a reason to play slots at the Cosmo. It’s a win-win.
Make it so. The Las Vegas Review-Journal previewed the Annual Star Trek Convention (in its second year at The Rio, praise be) and managed to be respectful toward Trekkies. After a couple of years under Editor Michael Hengel, the paper’s knuckle-dragging tendencies may be finally behind it. I, however, somewhat immodestly continue to believe that this is the definitive Star Trek Convention story. Live long and prosper, dear reader. Oh, and stay thirsty, too.