The Return of the Las Vegas Local

by , Jun 17, 2012 | 12:00 am

According to the latest Nevada State Gaming Board report, gaming revenues in Nevada rose nearly 6.2% in April. And as Chris Sieroty noted, high-end baccarat was a key driver for the state’s performance as well as the Strip’s 7.5% revenue boost.

High-end baccarat gets a lot of attention because it is seen as a barometer for the health of the Chinese economy. But by focusing on the high-end metrics, analysts are missing the resurgence in the low-end, locals, market.

The Local Rebound

The Strip’s gains were dwarfed by two of Clark County’s smaller gaming markets. In April, gaming revenues in North Las Vegas, cited as one of the ten worst-run cities in America, were up 42.3%. Downtown gaming revenues also got a nice 25.0% bump, aided in part by the reopening of the Plaza last September.

You won’t find too many baccarat whales Downtown or in North Las Vegas. What you will find are slot-playing locals. Slot revenues rose 53.3% in North Las Vegas and up 34.7% Downtown. Local-centric Station Casinos offered more evidence of a home-grown rebound, posting its best earnings in three years.

No Thanks to Tourists or Poker

Better gaming revenues gains were not the result of more visitors to Las Vegas. April was the first month in roughly two years to see a drop in visitor volume. According to the latest Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority report, visitor volume was down 0.9%. Hotel and motel occupancy was down 1.2%, while convention attendance dropped 4.9%.

Gaming revenues were also not helped by poker. Card game revenues in April were down 0.6% in the state, down 8% in Clark County and down 10.9% on the Strip. Unlike visitor volume, the drop in poker is not a new phenomenon. Poker’s waning revenue stream is a continuing trend, which we covered here in detail.

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