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Oops! That giant hissing sound is that the gaming balloon which was growing over time, slowly losing air. However, it has not been a wave that lowered all boats nevertheless, as a few emerging and expanding gambling authorities showed strong increase in 2008.Overall, the commercial and racetrack casino sectors (excluding Indian gaming), experienced a 3.5 percent decline in gambling revenues for 2008, generating a total of $36.2 billion, down some $800 million in 2007. It had been the Racino sector that has tempered this drop, as they showed a profit of nearly $1 billion in 2008, thereby bringing the Commercial sector market decrease to $1.8 billion, or 6.7 percent. Nevada was the biggest loser in 2008, dropping almost $1.3 billion, more than half of that originated from the Las Vegas Strip segment.Hunkering DownFor the most part, casino operators were caught comparatively flat-footed by the extent of the 2008 revenue recession, as it wasn’t until the third and fourth quarters when it really nosedived. Riding the crest of year over year market expansion throughout the country and the access to ample credit and equity funds, new construction and expansion proliferated in recent decades. Today, faced with the realities of falling, or at best stagnant need, many of these projects are now considered over-leveraged and/or over-sized. Because of this many gaming companies are attempting to renegotiate their debt made more difficult by reduced valuations – while also paring down operational expenses. The latter has become a very problematic conundrum when coping with the competition, particularly in those authorities that are now vying for market shares with new emerging casino jobs in neighboring regions. A subject we discuss more fully from the State by State analysis section of this novel.As a consequence of these ailments the gambling industry landscape is now strewn with impending fatalities. One of the more prominent distressed companies are Station Casinos, Empire Resorts, Harrah’s Entertainment, Greektown Holdings, Legends Gaming, Tropicana Entertainment, Herbst Gaming; and the list grows weekly.”How long will these economic conditions persist, and so are we in the bottom yet?” Are questions nobody appears to be replying yet. What is clear however is that the majority of gaming jurisdictions might need to learn how to manage a smaller pie.Notice:This analysis includes just gaming revenues of accredited casinos and pari-mutuel outlets that offer casino games, rather than Indian gaming operations, card rooms, or little non-casino type slot locations. The entire article, including sales tables is available on our internet page. Input/Output ModelA vital part which seems to have arisen from the ashes of the present trend is that lots of casino projects were just too large to support themselves. The input, concerning investment dollars, wasn’t proportional to the outcome , in terms of net profit after debt service, in comparison to previously achieved effects. More and/or bigger is not always better. Seeing the rise in non-gaming earnings at the Las Vegas Strip resorts, gave impetus to the growth of comprehensive amenities in many different jurisdictions. The defect in this strategy however is that the costs associated with widening market penetration and occasioned-use, are considerably higher than those incurred to entice the base marketplace.As daytripper markets become more aggressive, casino places might have to rely increasingly more on their in-house resort patrons, and dimensions their possessions (and expectations) accordingly. While Steve Wynn began a major trend in creating up-market mega-destinations, there simply was not enough need on the Strip to justify the numerous other similar projects that followed that targeted in the same niche.The secret is to strike a happy medium in job configurations; that of course require less of a’seat-of-pants’ approach, and one that is more studied. A shameless plug for growth consultants like ourselves.Other Gambling ActivitiesAlthough there are no published detailed data of American Indian gaming revenues, anecdotal evidence appears to indicate that this section has been as hard hit as the industrial sector. This market is apparently still reeling in the ripple-effect of a casino expansion in Rhode Island, and also the opening of slot operations in New York and Pennsylvania.The Arizona Department of Gaming reports that contributions based on a gambling revenue formula from the state’s 23 Indian gambling casinos, have been decreasing every quarter in 2008 compared to the previous year; decreasing.8 percent in the first quarter, 7.5 percent in the next quarter, 9.5 percent in the next quarter, and 16.1 percent in the fourth quarter.A few SEC reporting Indian gaming properties report similar reductions. Seneca Gaming, which operates three Class III casinos in upstate New York, reports that while calendar year 2008 revealed an almost 2 percent growth rate in gaming revenues, there was an 8.7 percent decrease in the third quarter and an almost 10 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2008, in comparison with 2007.