Casino Stocks More Than Just Vegas: Poll

The epicenter of the gaming industry is shifting away from Las Vegas, according to a recent poll by <I>TheStreet</I>.
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) -- Nevada -- or more specifically the Las Vegas Strip -- may not be the epicenter it once was to the gaming market.


users are split on this theory, with 52.7% saying that the Nevada gaming market is still as important, while 47.3% say it isn't. What's notable about that, of course, is that had we issued this poll five years ago the disparity would likely have been far greater, with far more investors proclaiming Nevada the be all and end all.

Part of this shift in perception clearly owes to the growth of Macau; the Chinese gambling enclave saw gaming revenues soar 48% in December.

In 2009,

Las Vegas Sands

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Wynn Resorts

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determined to capitalize on Macua's growth, issuing initial public offerings of its assets in the area on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

MGM Mirage

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is following their lead, and is currently in the process of looking for investment bankers to work on the offering, according to reports on Friday.

Meanwhile, in the United States, regional gaming markets also continue to grow in significance. Legislation that would bring table games to Pennsylvania casinos was passed earlier this month. Similar legislation was passed last year in West Virginia and is currently pending in Ohio.

As a result, the expansion of gambling in other states has brought some attention to lesse- known casino operators, such as

Penn National Gaming

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None of which means that Las Vegas isn't still vital to the gaming industry in its own right. MGM's CityCenter opening in December, for one, brought investor attention back to the strip.

Likewise, in November, Nevada saw its first increase in gaming revenue in nearly two years. Earlier this week the Gaming Control Board reported a 4% jump to $873.2 million in November. On the Las Vegas Strip, revenue also climbed 8.3% to $473.8 million.

In the Nevada locals market, gaming revenues were up 19% on the Boulder Strip and 21% in North Las Vegas during the month.

Gaming revenue in the state is significantly tied to convention business. As big firms cut back on expenses, trips to Las Vegas were frowned upon. In November, though, convention business rose 3.6% year-over-year.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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