Casino Execs Predict Grim 2011

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Casino Execs Predict Grim 2011

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Brandon Rittiman/KUNR

Casino executives speak to attendees at the Governor's Conference on Tourism at the Peppermill. December 8, 2010.

When asked what they foresee in the year 2011, the strongest reaction one the panel came from Ryan Sheltra, who runs the Bonanza Casino in North Reno.

Sheltra: "2011, I'm going to give a little bit more sobering message. It is about survival."

Sheltra was the only executive from a smaller casino, many of which have shut down in the recession. But he also pointed to the numbers.

Sheltra: "Washoe County has had decreased gaming revenue 37 of the last 39 months. It's been an absolute bloodbath up here."

That bloodbath doesn't do the same damage to bigger companies like with strong footholds in the Las Vegas area.

Vegas has a lot more clout as an international destination than Northern Nevada does.

But John Farahi, who runs the Atlantis, argues that needs to change.

Farahi: "The days of gaming as being the driver are over."

Farahi thinks the future lies in drawing people here for taking in Lake Tahoe, or the history of Virginia and Carson Cities, promoting the casinos as just part of the picture, not the whole reason to visit.

And for that more than one and ten of you who are out of work, don't count on hiring to ramp up in the casinos next year, even if profits start beefing up.

Jonathan Halkyard is C.F.O. for Caesers Entertainment (formerly known as Harrah's.)

Halkyard: "As those revenues, which are really spending and pricing levels come back, I don't expect that we're going to have a large increase in our labor force."

The bottom line is the casinos can do more with less now, because the recession forced them to become more efficient.