AP News

Nevada casino revenue up 17 percent in July

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada casinos raked in about $1 billion in July, marking the second billion-dollar revenue haul this year thanks mostly to heavy baccarat play that favored casinos over bettors, state regulators said Monday.

Statewide, the casino win of $1.005 billion was up $145.8 million, or 17 percent, over the $860 million won in July 2011. Nevada casinos also topped $1 billion in revenue in January.

The last time the seven-figure milestone was reached was in September 2008, which was one of five $1 billion-plus months that year. In 2007, Nevada casinos recorded 10 such lucrative revenue months.

Gains in July were fueled by the Las Vegas Strip, where winnings of $597.4 million were up 27.5 percent over the same month last year, even though this July had two fewer weekend days, said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board.

Winnings statewide from baccarat, a high-roller game favored by Asian players, totaled $189.9 million, up $100.2 million or 112 percent, with most of that taking place at Strip resorts. The baccarat win is the third largest in state history and was an anomaly, with casinos reaping 16 percent of wagers that totaled $1.2 billion, versus 9.7 percent held by clubs in the same month last year.

"The house was running pretty hot this month," Lawton said.

In baccarat, gamblers are dealt two cards and predict whether they will beat the banker, typically a position that rotates among the players at the table. At high-end resorts, baccarat games held in posh, secluded gambling salons can start out at a minimum $10,000 per hand.

Excluding baccarat, the statewide win was up 5.9 percent, or $44.5 million — far less than the 17 percent increase otherwise reported but still positive. On the Strip, the win would have been up 7.36 percent or, $27.9 million, without baccarat.

"Obviously, baccarat is driving our calendar year increase so far," Lawton said.

Without baccarat, Strip revenues are up only 0.4 percent for the calendar year.

The "win" is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $11.7 billion in July playing cards, table games and slot machines. A breakdown shows $8.9 billion was bet at slot and video machines and $2.8 billion on table games.

Nevada collected $67.5 million in casino taxes in August, based on the July revenues, up 40.5 percent.

Elsewhere, casino revenue in downtown Las Vegas was $41 million, up 16.4 percent.

Northern Nevada didn't fare as well in July. Reno casinos brought in $46 million, which was down $9.5 percent.

Clubs in the Carson Valley area of western Nevada and Elko County in eastern Nevada were flat, taking in $8.7 million and $22.8 million, respectively.

South Lake Tahoe revenue also was flat at about $30 million, though the showing was viewed as a positive for the market that has struggled with the expansion of Indian casinos in Northern California and saw steep declines during and after the Great Recession.

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