California Indian Casinos Hurting Reno Resorts

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Reno casinos continue to feel the pinch of growing competition from California Indian casinos.

The Eldorado Hotel&Casino reported a 63 percent drop in third-quarter net profit from a year ago, the latest sign of trouble for Reno resorts.

The nearby Circus Circus Hotel Casino earlier reported a 60 percent decline in third-quarter net profit. The Silver Legacy also reported a steep drop.

Joe Brady, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank's gambling division in Reno, said hotel revenues are flat and gambling revenues are down.

"People are coming and staying, but they're not gambling. So some of their gambling budget is obviously going to the Indian tribes,"Brady told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Analysts blame the decline on the spread of California Indian casinos, especially the Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento. Run by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, Thunder Valley opened this summer.

In a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Eldorado also cited competition from the casino.

"We believe Thunder Valley Casino had a significant impact on our operating results,"the SEC document states."Based on its size, proximity and potential expansion capabilities, we believe Thunder Valley Casino could further impact our operations in the future. While we cannot predict the extent of the future impact, it could be significant."

Phil Satre, chairman of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., said the negative numbers are not unique to Reno.

"In any jurisdiction where new supply comes in, it's going to have an impact on that market, and the market has to adjust by replacing customers,"he said.

Satre said Reno is taking steps to lure new visitors, including the recent opening of a whitewater kayak park and construction of a new Downtown Events Center.

"I do believe we are headed in the right direction,"he said."My wish was that we had all those things in place a year ago."

Ken Adams, a Reno gambling consultant, said the answers to Reno's woes are long-term planning and downtown redevelopment.