Nevada poker revenues were down about 8 percent year over year in February, continuing a trend of diminishing take from poker tables in Las Vegas and throughout the state.
Last February, the state brought in about $9.27 million from poker, while this year that number dropped to just over $8.5 million.
That number isn’t horribly out of line with recent results: while it’s the lowest of the last few months (January saw strong growth in terms of poker), you only have to go back as far as last September to see an even lower take.
However, it is another reminder that the poker industry isn’t what it used to be, as the number of poker rooms and tables in Nevada has been shrinking for years, and a turnaround doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon.
That’s not to suggest that poker is dying: the situation for poker is clearly far better than it was before the poker boom of the early 2000s.
However, the numbers don’t lie: according to research from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, there were just 70 poker rooms active in Nevada during February, with only 660 total live tables.
There haven’t been that few tables running in the state since March 2005, nearly a decade ago. During the height of the poker boom, there were usually more than 900 live tables available.
This year, at least two more poker rooms have closed in Las Vegas: one at the Linq (formerly Imperial Palace) and another at Hooters.
As for how much of this total was contributed by online poker, it’s hard to say. Because there are only two active Internet poker rooms in the state (WSOP.com, and the tiny Real Gaming site), gaming regulators are not reporting those revenues separately, something they will only do if there are three or more active operators.
Still, there are hopes that a recent interstate player sharing agreement with Delaware could improve liquidity at WSOP.com, even if most of the benefit is likely to be felt on Delaware’s side of the deal.
The poker declines in February mirrored those across the state, as the entire gaming industry saw a small decline for the month. Overall, Nevada’s casinos saw revenues fall by 1.1 percent compared to last year, bringing in $916.1 million for the month. The worst results came from the Las Vegas Strip, which saw a 4.4 percent annual decline.
As usual, poker was just a tiny part of the picture when it came to that drop. The biggest issue was a decline in baccarat revenues, which fell by 22.6 percent on the Strip. That came as a surprise to some, due to the fact that the Chinese New Year holidays fell during February this year.
On the other hand, some analysts said they saw this coming because of the noted struggles in Macau, which may have had a spillover effect into the Nevada market.
And even if things weren’t wonderful in Las Vegas, they were at least far better than what the gaming industry is dealing with in Macau itself.
Macau just reported their March revenues, and gaming take was down 39 percent compared to last year, continuing a ten month streak of large declines for the Chinese enclave.