Nevada casino revenue down 1 percent in July to $923M; month is a mixed back for state

Baccarat revenues in Nevada casinos continue to disappoint, but better showings among slot machines are helping reduce the hit in state gambling revenues.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Friday that Nevada casinos kept nearly $923 million of what was gambled in July, a figure that's 1 percent down from the same month last year. That comes as baccarat revenues fell 23 percent to $104 million.

"The most significant market declines are being borne by the handful of luxury properties that compete in the baccarat segment," wrote Brent Pirosch, a gaming analyst with CBRE. "The mass market — where the majority of casinos make their money — remains positive."

Highly volatile baccarat numbers, which depend on the habits of high rollers from Asia, have been down for 10 of the past 12 months. Analysts point to an anti-money laundering campaign in China.

"A lot of the anti-graft campaign has impacted how those customers are spending their money," said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst at the Gaming Control Board.

With only data from July, it's too soon to tell how China's surprise decision to devalue its currency earlier this month will affect gambling and tourism in Nevada. That move shook the stock market, and has highlighted concerns about the country's slowing economic growth.

Meanwhile, the state's slot machines brought in $600 million in July, up 5.5 percent from a year ago. Slot revenue is up 3.7 percent so far this calendar year.

"Slot win and volume is lessening the impact of what we're seeing in baccarat," Lawton said.

July was a mixed bag for the regions within Nevada, with Las Vegas Strip gambling revenue falling 2 percent to $525 million. Reno casinos brought in $51 million last month for a 6 percent increase, while South Lake Tahoe casino revenue fell 7 percent to $23 million in July.

The Gaming Control Board says the state collected $57 million in taxes on the gambling revenue, which was up 7 percent compared with the same time last year.