If James Packer was harbouring any remote thoughts about a move back to Nevada, or was looking for a silver lining for his considerably frustrated US gambling ambitions, then February gaming revenues from Nevada should keep those ideas in check.

For the 14th month in a row, casino revenue across Nevada fell in February to a level not seen since 2004.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported that gaming revenue fell more than 18% across the state in February and more than 23% on the Strip in Las Vegas, which is the heart of the US casino industry.

The Board said revenue was $US839.5 million statewide and $US427.4 million on the Strip, the lowest single-month gaming revenue totals since 2004.

The statewide casino win of almost $US839.5 million from gamblers was down from almost $1.145 billion in February 2008. That’s lowest statewide one-month total since July 2004. February’s 18.1% fall was the third largest monthly decline in state history, following a 22.3% drop last October and an 18.9% decline last December.

On the Strip, casinos won $US427.4 million, down from $558.3 million a year ago. The figure was the lowest single month total since November 2004. It was the second-largest single month drop ever, trailing only the 25.7%.

Some claimed the fall was influenced by the fact that February 2008 was a leap year (and had one extra trading day for casinos) and the Chinese New Year fell in the same month, but in January of this year.

Gamblers put $US9.1 billion through poker machines in the state, down 15.4% on a year ago, and $US2.1 billion on table games, off a huge 32.3% compared with February 2008.

Now some analysts argued that the earlier Chinese New Year in January (which didn’t really boost January revenues all that much, if at all) and one less trading day in February this year, meant the bigger than expected slump.

They also claimed that a lift in state gambling taxes was also a positive, but that is understood to have resulted in more betting settlements being pushed into February from late January when the Asian Lunar New Year fell. It had nothing to do with higher profits in February.

So for those omen punters in the market: the slide is the trend in Nevada for the time being, again.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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