CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada casinos took in more than $1 billion in gambling revenue in January, posting an 18.4 percent increase over the same month a year earlier largely because of gamblers on the Las Vegas Strip celebrating the Chinese New Year, state regulators said Thursday.
It’s the first time casino revenues have surpassed the seven-figure threshold since September, 2008, said Michael Lawton, senior analyst with the Gaming Control Board.
The January win of $1.04 billion compared with a statewide tally of $877 million in January 2011. It also marked the fourth consecutive increase in gambling revenue for the state, something that hasn’t been recorded since 2007, Lawton said.
Chinese New Year drew heavy betting on baccarat, a high-roller game favored by Asian players. January results were also helped by a favorable holiday calendar.
“Obviously the big percentage difference has to do with the fact the Chinese New Year was in January. Last year it was in February,” Lawton said.
On the Las Vegas Strip, Nevada’s tourism and gambling mecca, casino revenues increased more than 29 percent. Casinos took in $624 million from gamblers compared with $483 million in January 2011.
The “casino win” is what remained in casino coffers after gamblers statewide wagered $11.9 billion on slot machines and table and card games. A breakdown shows the $8.5 billion pumped into slot machines was up about $57 million from January, 2011, while $3.4 billion wagered on table games jumped $1.1 billion.
In January, the drop or amount wagered on baccarat was $1.6 billion, up $965 million compared with last year, and casinos won $194.8 million, a nearly 200 percent increase.
“The baccarat win and drop are the second largest amounts ever recorded in state history,” Lawton said.
Regulators collected $57.4 million in taxes based on January’s revenues, a 16.5 percent decline from last year. But the decline is misleading because casinos don’t pay fees on wagers placed on credit until the debt is actually paid. The state estimates roughly $19 million in taxes remains outstanding from January winnings.
Baccarat has kept Nevada’s gambling revenues afloat during the Great Recession.
But Lawton said other sectors are showing signs of growth and stability, and noted that excluding baccarat, the statewide win was still up nearly 4 percent.
In downtown Las Vegas, revenue of $47 million was up nearly 14 percent, and so-called local markets — North Las Vegas, the Boulder Strip — also reported gains.
The story was different in Washoe County, where Reno casino revenues of $38 million were down 8.6 percent. South Lake Tahoe’s $17 million win in January was up 2 percent.
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