Having been forced to sit back and watch Macau chalk up record month after record month, casino operators on the Las Vegas Strip have just experienced a record month of their own with GGR up 15.1 per cent in February compared to last year and win up by 31 per cent to a record high of $956.4m.
Ironically it was attributed to the Chinese New Year celebrations that are now proving so popular in Las Vegas.
Across Nevada, casinos reported revenue of $1bn in February. The Nevada Gaming Control Board said that since July, the start of the fiscal year, casino revenue statewide was up 2.2 per cent with taxes collected by the state also up 2.9 per cent to $495.7m.
Michael Lawton, Senior Research Analyst for the board, confirmed: “It was the highest win ever on the Strip.”
Macquarie Securities Gaming Analyst Chard Beynon, said: “While February saw the timing benefit of a strong Chinese New Year, we think results still came in ahead of expectations.”
Analysts believe that those operators with a foot in the Macau door stand to gain the most from the new surge of Chinese play on The Strip with the more exposure to baccarat the greater the swing. Susquehanna Financial Group Gaming Analyst Rachael Rothman said baccarat numbers definitely put ‘a positive bias on first quarter gaming estimates for Strip operators with more baccarat exposure.’
Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski added: “Given Asian gaming patrons’ propensity to visit The Strip, we believe those operators with a presence in Asian gaming markets should be able to attract a disproportionate share of the emerging baccarat business going forward.”
The upswing was only experienced on the Strip though with other Nevada markets suffering a fall in casino revenue compared to February 2012.
Casinos in downtown Las Vegas casinos fell 7.8 per cent to $41.5m, revenues at North Las Vegas casinos dropped by 14.3 per cent to $21m; Laughlin slipped by 1.6 per cent to $42.2m; Boulder Strip casinos fell 10.5 per cent to $64m and Clark County fell by 5.4 per cent to $81.4m.
Analysts believe that the recovery has started but that the next year will be full of gains and dips in GGR.
JP Morgan gaming analyst Joe Greff said: “Looking over the last several months, we believe results point to a continued uneven recovery on the Las Vegas Strip.”