November casino win declined

For the second time in three months, casino winnings have dropped — signaling a potential slowing of the gambling economy in Nevada.

The state Gaming Control Board reported today the clubs won $779.8 million during November, a decline of 3.2 percent or $26.4 million compared to the same month in 1999.

“It was a tough month for everybody except downtown (Las Vegas) and South Lake Tahoe,” said Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the board.

Part of the reason, he said was the casinos in November 1999 reported a 21.9 percent increase in gross revenues, computed before business expenses and taxes. “That’s a hard comparison,” he said.

“Some of the operators say they feel the mid-to-upper end market is slowing down compared to last year, especially on the game side,” Streshley said.

The board said winnings from slot machines inched up by 1.6 percent but revenue from table games dropped by 11.1 percent. This was the third consecutive month of decline in winnings from game and table win.

The board also reported that percentage tax collections reached $276 million for the first six months of this fiscal year, up .4 percent. The prediction for gaming receipts this year is 5.8 percent. So there will have to be a major increase in the final half of the collection period to reach the prediction.

Statewide, baccarat win fell 22.2 percent; 21 was off 3.1 percent; craps decreased by 21.4 percent and roulette fell 18.7 percent. The revenue from sports pools in November gained 5.3 percent.

Winnings on the $1 slot machines fell 8 percent; quarter slots were down 5.7 percent and Megabucks dropped 26.5 percent. But revenue from the nickel slot machines rose 27.6 percent.

For the second time in the last three months, gaming revenues declined on the Las Vegas Strip. Streshley said the business from Comdex was good but there was no major fight to rival the Holyfield-Lewis bout of November 1999 that drew the high rollers to Las Vegas.

Strip casinos reported $398.6 million in gross win, a 7.7 percent decline. But November of a year ago registered a 35.8 percent increase in gaming win. Slot machine revenues rose 3.1 percent this November but table win dropped 16.8 percent. There was a 53.6 percent increase in table revenue in November 1999.

Downtown Las Vegas was one of the bright spots in the state. Casinos won $54.4 million, up 3.3 percent. But last year, the clubs experienced a 2.1 percent decline in revenues. Slot win this November rose 2.4 percent and game and table revenues were up 6.5 percent.

North Las Vegas casinos reported winnings of $21 million, down 2.1 percent. A year ago, the winnings were up 26.1 percent. The board said slot win fell 1.1 percent this November and gaming revenues dropped 9.6 percent.

Clubs along the Boulder Strip bucked the trend in November. They reported $51.8 million in winnings, up 6.6 percent. Slot win rose 3.7 percent and table revenues were up 32.5 percent. Last year, the Boulder market rose by 4.2 percent.

Laughlin clubs recorded their second straight month of declining revenues. Gross revenue reached $44.8 million, down 2 percent. A year ago the revenues were up 11.8 percent. Slot play fell 1 percent and game and table winnings were down 8.1 percent.

Washoe County casinos saw declining revenues for the third time in the last four months. They reported $84.5 million in gross win, down 2.5 percent. Slot win was off 2.1 percent and table revenue fell 3.7 percent.

South Lake Tahoe showed the best performance in the state with revenues up 22.6 percent to $25.2 million. Slot win rose 7.7 percent and table games grew by 32.8 percent. Streshley said that was mostly due to individual marketing plans by the casinos.

Elko County casinos registered $16.3 million in winnings, down 4.2 percent. Slot winnings dropped 5.6 percent but game and table win was up 1.1 percent.

Carson Valley clubs, which include Carson City and the Carson Valley, reported winnings of $6.5 million, down 6 percent. Slots were off 6.9 percent but table games grew by 3.3 percent.

6 Truths About Online Gambling

Last week, we looked at five common misconceptions about online gambling and set the record straight. This week, we look at six more, and it seems that there are a lot more gray areas.

1. Online gambling is illegal. – True (and False). It’s illegal to run an online casino in the U.S. and Canada. There are also a few states, including Nevada, which have passed special laws making it a crime to make or accept a bet on the Internet.

As of last week, it was also illegal for Australians to bet at an Australian Internet casino. But they can still bet at overseas casino sites.

That said, the majority of states and provinces do not have laws that prohibit online wagering so most players don’t have much to worry about.

2. I can go to jail for playing online. – (Probably) False. Online gambling exists in a bit of a gray area right now, whether the authorities are willing to admit it or not. The Canadian and American governments consider online gambling illegal, but there is no current legislation that would send a player to jail. That’s good to know when you consider that more than two-thirds of online gamblers are from Canada and the U.S.

California recently introduced legislation that prohibits residents of the state from gambling online. Violators will be subject to fines ranging from $25 to $100, assuming they get caught and convicted. We’ll just have to wait and see whether federal politicians introduce other online gambling laws.

3. I have to pay taxes even though my winnings are from an offshore casino. – (Probably) True. But then you put yourself in a position of admitting to illegal activities. A player named Moosed from Hawaii found himself in exactly that boat when InterCasino announced that he had won their progressive jackpot. Now the cops in Hawaii want to talk to him.

Casinos are not required to, and do not, report their players’ winnings to any government body. But you run the risk of income tax evasion charges if you ever get audited and can’t explain your winnings. The best thing to do is declare your online winnings as regular gambling winnings, and leave it at that. Better safe than sorry when it comes to the IRS.

4. The odds are worse at online casinos, compared to brick-and-mortar casinos. – (Probably) False. That’s a tough one to answer so we asked Michael Shackleford, The Wizard of Odds, for his expert opinion.

According to The Wizard, the only thing that really makes a difference between online and brick-and-mortar casinos is the rules. “If an online casino and a b+m casino have the same rules, then the odds of winning would be the same. You could also look at the issue of who has the better rules. In general the real casinos are better but there are many exceptions.” So there you go.

5. I will get paid right away when I win. – False. You will likely have to wait for a PIN (personal identification number) to arrive by snail mail before you can cash out. That can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the casino you’re playing at and where you live. Give the PIN at least two weeks to arrive, and then start making enquiries to Customer Service.

6. All online casinos are crooked. – (Definitely) False. In fact, there are very few rip-off joints. Casino operators know they can make good cash without cheating. Profit is built in to the house edge on casino games, so there’s no need to cheat. That said, there are some crooked casinos out there.

Online casinos face $1M fines

Local online gaming operators caught letting Australians gamble on their sites will face fines of up to $1.1 million a day under anti-gambling legislation tabled in Federal Parliament Thursday.

The government has also acknowledged that its proposed ban on online gaming will cost local jobs, particularly in regional Australia.

The recommended option would have some impact on employment in regional Australia, to the extent that elements of the interactive gambling industry most severely impacted by the restrictions may be located in regional Australia, explanatory notes accompanying the legislation said.

The legislation, which covers online casinos and Internet sports and race betting sites, is not expected to be debated until the end of May, after the Howard Government’s 12-month moratorium on online gambling expires on May 19. A ban will come into effect one month after the legislation is passed with the complaints regime coming online five months later.

A spokesperson for federal IT and communications minister said the fine structure for the proposed ban mirrors the penalties put in place for the 12-month moratorium on online gaming.

The government faces an uphill battle to push the bill through the Senate with the Federal Opposition and several Democrats senators opposing a ban on online gaming. Also several senators who supported the initial moratorium on all new forms of online gaming, including Democrats senators Lyn Allison and John Woodley and Greens senator Bob Brown, have expressed concern over the proposed ban.

The majority of Australian states and territories remain opposed to a ban on Internet gambling.

Nevada Assembly votes

– Internet gambling is a mouse click away from approval in the Nevada Assembly, winning 37-2 approval Wednesday but facing a second vote Thursday.

While AB296, by Assemblywoman Merle Berman, R-Las Vegas, has broad support, it will go to a second vote mainly because of concerns about a related measure, AB578, that imposes big fees on casinos that want to provide Internet gambling.

While Berman’s measure passed easily, AB578 failed on a 21-18 vote, one short of the necessary 22 “ayes.”

Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, asked for another vote on the fee plan, saying, “It’ll give the body an opportunity to examine the inner relationship between the two bills.” Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, then moved for the second vote on the main Internet gambling measure.

Anderson said Berman’s bill focuses on the policy issue of interactive gambling, and the fees in AB578 help cover the costs of regulating such gambling.

Without the fee plan, “we’re left with the question of what the Gaming Control Board is going to do by its own devices,” said Anderson. “It’s the prerogative of the Legislature to set (fees).”

AB578 requires a prepaid $1 million licensing fee every two years for Nevada casinos offering Internet gambling. In addition, application fees would be $100,000, and licensees would have to pay the 6.25 percent state gambling tax on winnings.

The bill would require slot manufacturers to pay fees as high as $250,000 if they produce Internet gambling software and equipment for casinos.

Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, opposed the fee proposal, saying, “It allows only large properties to play.”

Carpenter added that the initial fee was so high many prospective operators would be discouraged from launching interactive gambling sites. Assemblyman John Lee, D-Las Vegas, opposed both bills, saying the high fee plan “carves out an industry that only an elite few will be able to participate in.”

“I’m scared,” Lee said, adding that there are potential social problems that could be caused by Internet gambling in general, including gambling addictions, divorce and abuse.

The lower house also voted 37-3 to approve AB466, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, calling for a statewide gambling work card system.

Leslie said the bill creates a system that treats everyone fairly.

Online Gambling Casinos

The folks in Atlantic City – Donald Trump included – are ecstatic over a judicial ruling that effectively slams the door shut on Indian-sponsored casinos in the Catskills. But while Trump & Co. are happy for their own economic interests, this is a long-term victory for New Yorkers, as well.

Albany Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi ruled that two New York governors, George Pataki and Mario Cuomo, “crossed the line of executive power” and overstepped their legal authority when they approved a plan to let the St. Regis Mohawk tribe build a $500 million gambling casino in Monticello, the heart of economically depressed Sullivan County.

According to the ruling, such casinos must be approved by the state Legislature – where upstate Republicans, including Majority Leader Joe Bruno, are wisely opposed to the spread of state-sponsored gambling.

Besides the Monticello facility, Teresi’s ruling endangers two other proposed casinos, in Greene County and Niagara Falls. And it precludes any expansion to existing tribal casinos.

Good move.

We’ve always opposed such dubious schemes, however well-intentioned – and it’s clear that certain upstate areas, especially the Catskills, need an economic shot in the arm.

But this is not the way to do it.

Under the gubernatorial scheme, 30 acres of land would be ceded to the St. Regis Mohawks and designated “tribal” territory for the purpose of erecting a casino – in other words, to evade New York state’s unambiguous constitutional ban on gambling casinos.

But the economic benefits of existing casinos further upstate are open to question.

Moreover, the state suffers thanks to the massive sales-tax evasion that takes place at Indian-owned places, like convenience stores and gas stations.

As for the St. Regis Mohawks, the tribe has for decades been carrying on a brisk smuggling trade through its St. Lawrence River reservation, which extends on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Such contraband as guns, alcohol and tobacco traverses the reservation – and it does a brisk business in the transport of illegal aliens as well.

Nice neighbors, huh?

Beyond that, there are no economic arguments here strong enough to subvert the state constitution.

In its landmark 1999 study, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission – which surveyed 100 communities – called for a nationwide moratorium on the growth of the gaming industry.