Market Beat: Gaming stocks are surging

Ken Roberts
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Recently the Las Vegas Strip reported a 13 percent increase in revenue for the month of December, but the month of January saw a decline on about 19 percent.

In spite of January’s decline, some gaming related stocks have been on a tear lately, notably led by Caesar’s Entertainment, whose price has more than doubled since the beginning of February. Caesar’s is one of the largest gaming stocks in the world with more than 50 casinos operating.

Caesar’s owns all of the Harrah’s casinos which are a stock of local interest because they have operations in Reno and Lake Tahoe.

Harrah’s was founded in 1937 in Reno by William F. Harrah. It started as a bingo parlor. Bill Harrah died in 1978 and the company was bought out by the Holiday Inn in 1980. They renamed the business Harrah’s Entertainment and eventually purchased Caesar’s and renamed the company Caesar’s in 2010.

Some of the larger players in the gaming industry are Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Boyd Gaming.

With the recent data coming from Las Vegas, the worst may be over for gaming as we continue our slow growth following the recession.

Last year, casinos in Nevada had revenue of more than $10 billion which was the third straight annual increase. Wynn, Las Vegas Sands and MGM all have operations on the island of Macau, which is now the most popular place to gamble in the world. Gaming in Macau goes back to the 1850s and today accounts for over 40 percent of their gross domestic product.

Northern Nevada continues to see a decline in gaming revenue. Since 2002, gambling revenue has declined by about 30 percent, partly due to the recession and partly due to increased competition from Indian Gaming throughout Northern California. Tribal casino revenues are now up to about $7 billion per year in California and California is the number one state for tribal gaming in the country.

Casino operators in Northern Nevada are focusing on selling Reno/Tahoe as a unique destination to experience since the days of counting on getting tourists just interested in Nevada’s gambling appears to be over.

Another local gaming stock to watch is IGT, which stands for International Game Technology. They were started in Reno, have 4,800 employees and have a market cap of not quite $5 billion. IGT is a maker of casino games, gaming equipment and systems technology for gaming worldwide.

Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee based Registered Investment Advisor. Information on his money management service can be found at his blog at or by calling 775-657-8065. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial adviser before purchasing any security.

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