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LAS VEGAS-The Applied Analysis Gaming Index increased 8.7% in August, reaching the highest level in its 10-year history. Key drivers of the increase were relatively strong mid-year earnings reports and speculation surrounding the Asian gaming market.

Launched by locally based Applied Analysis in January 1998 with a value of 100, the Index tracks the daily stock price of nine publicly traded gaming-related companies with significant operations in Nevada. The August increase, the third consecutive monthly increase, took the Index to 514.81.

The rise was attributable to the performance of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd., the most heavily invested in Macau, China, of all the Index companies. Las Vegas Sands daily average share price jumped 20% in August as it unveiled its new casino there, the Venetian Macau. The $2.4-billion casino resort is home to the world’s largest casino floor (550,000 sf).

Also during the month, Wynn Resorts reported second quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street estimates; that combined with the Macau market expectations pushed the company’s share price over $120 per share, an all-time high, according to the report.

Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts were the only two major companies in the Index to post increases in their daily average share price in August but because they are the largest companies in the Index their gains far outweighed the others’ declines.

In September, MGM Mirage may help the Index continue on its upward path. At the end of August, the company announced that Dubai World, a major investment holding company, agreed to invest $2.7 billion in MGM Mirage’s Project CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip and up to an additional $2.4 billion in MGM common stock. While MGM’s daily average share price ended August at $76.51, it has been trading above $80 since Aug. 22 and on Tuesday was trading above $84.

Casinos in Nevada won $959.8 million from gamblers in June, the most recent month for which data was available. Of that total $789.7 million, or 82.3%, was lost by people gambling in Clark County, with $500 million of that lost along the Las Vegas Strip. The statewide total represents a 6.1% increase from the same period one year earlier while the Strip total represents a 13.3% increase.

The growth on the Strip corresponds with a 4% boost in the number of visitors to the Las Vegas Valley in June, which totaled 3.3 million. Convention-related travel was down 13.7%, suggesting leisure visitor growth increased at a healthy rate of 7.3%, according to the report.

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