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Baccarat Numbers Down at Las Vegas Casinos

On June 1st, 2009, even VIP's are not doing well in this financial crisis. The game of baccara-the game of choice for most high-rollers-is down on the Las Vegas Strip and casino facilities have improved their cash reserves to offset their losses they incur when VIP's do not pay their debts. Las Vegas Strip casinos wrote off $116 million in bad wagers in 2008, or two percent of their overall gaming revenue, according to the latest figures from the Gambling Control Board.

By comparison, Las Vegas casinos wrote off $112 million in 2007, $80 million in 2006 and $46 million in 2005. To cushion against the risk, some casino operators in Las Vegas say that they have tightened their credit. Casinos did the same after September 11th, 2001, but relaxed their credit lending during the boom, said gambling consultant Jacob Oberman of CB Richard Ellis in Las Vegas.

Oberman said that that these days, "a lot of players who used to pay their credits on time may no longer be viable", making the credit manager's job one of the most vital jobs in a casino. But at the same time, casino facilities that turn aways gamers whose credit is still good risk offending players who will go elsewhere to spend their money. Strip gaming are on alert for deadbeats. Casino owner Steve Wynn recently stated that his organization is exchanging vital information with their competitors on credit problems.

One of the larges gaming events of 2009, the Chinese New Year, which takes place in January or February, attracts Asian VIP's for marathon gaming sessions. Baccarat gamers on Las Vegas strio wagered a total of $1.4 billion in January and February, an eighteen percent drop from the same period last year. Casino facilities won twenty-two percent less from baccarat gamers over that time, or $153.1 million. Normally, casino facilities are not in the risk business. Casino games are studied to pay out and keep a certain amount of bets at a given time.

Although a VIP's hot streak can affect earnings in the short run, over the long run casino games tend to feature a predetermined casino edge. With VIP's playing less, gaming facilities have fewer chances to gain back their losses, while players may be likely to go home with their winnings. The longer players stay inside the casino, the more that they will spend their money on games.

Las Vegas casinos kept 10.3% of baccarat bets for the past twelve months compared with 12.5% a year earlier. MGM Mirage, which caters to both VIP's and average players, stated that baccarat total was down only one percent in the 1st quarter compared with the previous year. Excluding the game of baccarat, the total volume of casino table games dropped by 20% in the quarter.

MGM Mirage casinos kept a little less of players' casino table game bets in the 1st quarter compared with a year ago. Wynn Resorts' casino table hold percentage was 18% in the 1st quarter, well below 2008's 20%. Casino table game bets fell by 3% at Las Vegas Sands' Venetian casino and Palazzo casino but the casino table hold percentage was twenty-one percent compared with 25% a year ago.

Wynn's high-rollers in Las Vegas and Macau are still playing, but their gaming sessions are not as long. Wynn attributed part of its twenty percent earnings drop in the 1st quarter to its decision to tighten credit in Macau, considered to a high roller haven.


Monday, June 29, 2009
Danny McCain

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