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Las Vegas Strip Gambling Falls 8.7% in August on Baccarat

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Las Vegas Strip’s recovery faltered in August as casino gambling fell 8.7 percent on a decline in baccarat revenue.

Strip betting declined to $496.9 million, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board said today in an e-mail. Revenue rose 5.2 percent in the first eight months of 2011 from a year earlier.

Las Vegas has been staging an uneven recovery from a record two-year drop in gambling and conventions. Baccarat revenue, which rose to a record in August 2010, was a main contributor to the total revenue drop in August 2011, according to Joseph Greff, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York.

“Backing out baccarat results, total win on the Las Vegas Strip was actually up 4.7 percent in August,” Greff said in a note today. “We believe our gradual recovery thesis for the LV Strip remains intact.”

The four biggest casino operators on the Strip -- MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Wynn Resorts Ltd. -- have said a recovery was under way in their most recent earnings calls.

“I do feel like Las Vegas is coming back, albeit slowly,” Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands, said in a Sept. 21 interview with Bloomberg News. “The gaming propensity in one respect has gone down in the United States, and has gone up because more foreigners, particularly Asians, are coming to Las Vegas.”

Convention Bookings

A rise in conventions, which help Strip hotels fill their rooms midweek, may be key to a Las Vegas recovery, according to Investment Technology Group Inc.’s Sept. 8 industry report. Las Vegas had begun to benefit from an upswing in business travel, which started in late 2009, as conventions tend to book hotels a year or more in advance, the report said.

Gambling revenue for all Nevada casinos dropped 6.1 percent to $886.9 million in August, the board said. Monthly proceeds for Clark County, which includes downtown Las Vegas as well as the Strip, declined 6.7 percent to $752.2 million.

Visitors to Las Vegas increased 2.8 percent to 3.29 million in August, the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority said today in a separate report. Room rates rose 11 percent to $97.11 from a year earlier, the authority said.

That marks 18 straight months of increases in both, according to the report.

Las Vegas Sands rose 0.5 percent to $44.81 at the close in New York, while MGM increased 2.5 percent to $9.83. Wynn Resorts fell 1.4 percent to $137.77.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ksenia Galouchko in New York at kgalouchko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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