POSTED: 4:24 a.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 12:51 p.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010
CARSON CITY, Nev.>> Casinos in Nevada collected $918 million in winnings in September, an increase of less than 1 percent compared with the same month last year, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.
Though the total win was small, it marked the first time since 2007 that Nevada casinos posted two consecutive months of increases, said Mike Lawton, senior Gaming Control Board analyst.
Another positive sign, Lawton said, is that there were no major conventions or special events during the month. Two big conventions that drew 125,000 people to Las Vegas in September 2009 were held in August this year, so the monthly increase, though slight, suggests Nevada's gambling sector may be leveling off after two years of steep recession declines.
Nevada collected $56.5 million in taxes based on the September revenue. The collections are up nearly 4 percent compared with the fees collected in September 2009, when the state collected $54.3 million.
Taxes paid by casinos on winnings account for a third of Nevada's general fund revenues. But the key revenue stream has been hammered by the Great Recession as tourists and gamblers stayed home or kept more money in their wallets. Nevada leads the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies.
The September win was the amount left in casino coffers, before taxes and expenses, after gamblers wagered $11.4 billion on table games and slot machines. Table game winnings of $339.1 million were up 6.8 percent, while slot winnings fell 2.4 percent to $569.1 million.
Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, which generate half of all statewide gaming revenues, reported gross winnings of $520.6 million, up 2.8 percent. The winnings were bolstered by baccarat and sports book play, Lawton said.
Baccarat is a high-roller game favored by Asian gamblers. In September, baccarat gamblers wagered $976 million, up nearly 17 percent from the same month last year, and the $128.3 million won by casinos was up nearly 30 percent.
Without baccarat, Strip casinos would have posted a decline of more than 3 percent.
"The baccarat business is definitely keeping the state's numbers respectable," Lawton said.
Casinos in northern Nevada's Washoe County, which includes Reno and Sparks, reported a sixth consecutive month of decline. Winnings totaled $68.3 million, down 5.3 percent.
At South Lake Tahoe, where the market share has been dramatically eroded by Indian casinos in California, winnings fell 8.2 percent in September.
Elsewhere, casino winnings fell 4.3 percent in Elko; 3.9 percent in downtown Las Vegas; and 6.9 percent in North Las Vegas. The Carson Valley area including Carson City and Minden-Gardnerville reported increased winnings of 10.8 percent.