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Nevada Gaming Revenues Up 16 Percent

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/12/2011
Nevada Gaming Revenues

(Associated Press) - Nevada casinos posted a big gain in May, reporting a total gambling win of $984 million, an increase of nearly 16.2 percent compared with the same month a year ago, the state Gaming Control Board said Monday.

"This is the largest total win since Sept. 2008 and the largest percent increase since December 2006," said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the Gaming Control Board.

For the 11 months of the fiscal year, total win is up nearly 2 percent statewide and 5.2 percent on the Las Vegas Strip.

Taxes collected in June on the May winnings totaled $68.3 million, up 17.6 percent. Because casino's pay taxes based on winnings in the previous month, collections for the fiscal year that ended June 30 were $651.8 million -- up $3.9 million or less than 1 percent -- over projections made by the Economic Forum.

Resorts on the Strip -- Nevada's gambling mecca that accounts for half of statewide casino revenues -- posted a 29 percent increase in winnings for the month, up $130.2 million to $580.5 million.

For the Strip, it's the largest win amount since January 2008, Lawton said.

The "casino win" is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $12.2 billion. The $2.9 billion gambled on games was up $474.2 million, while the $9.29 billion pumped into slot machines was off slightly by 0.5 percent.

Part of the statewide gains is attributed to a soft comparison for the same month a year ago, when the win was down 4.7 percent. Two special events -- the May 7 Pacquiao-Mosley bout and a UFC card on May 28 -- also helped spur Las Vegas casino action, Lawton said.

Baccarat, a high roller game favored by Asian players, accounted for $142.8 million of the statewide win after gamblers spent $1.2 billion. Both the win and the amount wagered are a May record for Nevada, Lawton said.

In Reno, the $48.5 million won by casinos was down 7.7 percent in Reno. For Washoe County as a whole, winnings dropped 6.63.

"Reno has not had a positive month this calendar year," Lawton said.

Winnings were up 7.9 percent in downtown Las Vegas and 15 percent at South Lake Tahoe, but down 0.4 percent in Elko and 2.2 percent in the Carson Valley area.

Gains were seen in some local markets -- smaller neighborhood casinos that have been slow to rebound after the Great Recession left Nevada crippled with record joblessness, bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Las Vegas local markets were up 2.3 percent and "may be picking up traction, which is a good thing," Lawton said.

Analysts, however, remain skeptical.

"We continue to be apprehensive about the overall recovery in the Las Vegas locals market," Bill Lerner, an analyst with Union Gaming, said in a note to investors.

While unemployment numbers improved in May to 12.1 percent -- down from a record 14.9 percent in December -- the state's joblessness is still well above the 9.1 percent national rate.

"In our opinion, the fall in statewide unemployment is a false positive and has been a result of outmigration and a declining work force rather than economic improvement," Lerner wrote.

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