Reno continues to reinvent itself despite declining revenuesThe third-quarter revenue numbers for Nevada casinos are in, and the results from the north continue to be grim.
The Eldorado Hotel & Casino and the Circus Circus Hotel Casino, two Reno-based properties, reported a year-over-year decline in third-quarter net profit in excess of 60 percent, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The Silver Legacy, another Reno property, also posted a steep loss in net profit.
The news of another disastrous quarter for northern Nevada's gaming capital took few gaming analysts by surprise. Indeed, Reno has reported a negative growth in gaming revenue for 30 of the past 39 months, according to Bill Eadington, the director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno. During a speech at the recently held Governor's Conference on Tourism in Las Vegas, Eadington blamed the continuing decline of casino fortunes in Reno and Lake Tahoe on a weak gambling market and increased competition from new high-tech California-based Indian casinos.
"We have a lot of sick patients in our Nevada gaming hostel these days," Eadington said at the conference.
Relief-both short- and long-term-appears to be on the way, however. Casinos in the ski-resort areas of Reno, Lake Tahoe, Sparks reported better-than-expected results for the recent New Year's Day weekend, thanks in part to a blizzard and an increase of traffic at area ski slopes.
Reno officials hope to turn some of these winter tourists into year-round visitors when construction of the city's new downtown events center is completed later this year.
State government is also doing its part to revive Reno's fortunes. Plans were recently unveiled to create a new $500,000 television ad campaign that promotes Nevada's non-casino attractions. Northern Nevada activities such as fishing, skiing, hiking, kayaking and camping will be featured. The commercials will air on various cable television channels starting this month.
Despite the revenue declines, some gaming companies still believe in the northern Nevada marketplace and are snapping up properties from operators looking to leave. For example, Reno-based Sands Regent has signed a deal to purchase the Rail City Casino in Sparks, from Alliance Gaming Corp. for $38 million. Management of The Sands Regent expects the sale to close in the spring of 2004, pending regulatory approval.
Rail City Casino, formerly known as the Plantation Casino until it was renamed for a grand re-opening in 1997, has approximately 16,600 square feet of gaming space housing 550 slots, 7 table games, keno, a sports book, a family-style restaurant and a lounge.
"The acquisition of Rail City Casino makes a powerful statement about the Sands Regent's plans for future growth while giving us an immediate impact in the northern Nevada locals market," said Ferenc Szony, president and CEO of The Sands Regent, in a prepared statement. "Rail City has the loyal customer base, convenient location, a great team of employees and proximity to our other two properties that we have been looking for in selecting potential acquisitions."
The Sands Regent also owns and operates the Sands Regency Casino and Hotel in downtown Reno and Gold Ranch Casino and RV Resort in Verdi, Nev.