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Casino winnings plunge 14.7 percent in January

Previous January was the beginning of a yearlong slide

Updated Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 12:48 p.m.

CARSON CITY – Winnings at casinos on the Strip fell 14.7 percent in January, the fourth straight month of a double-digit declines.

The state Gaming Control Board reported gross win -- before business expenses and taxes -- totaled $908.5 million statewide in January, down 14.6 percent from a year earlier. January 2008 was the first month of the gaming industry’s current slide.

Frank Streshley, the board’s senior research specialist, said $12.3 billion was wagered statewide during the month, but the “hold” on slot machines fell to 6 percent from 6.9 percent of a year ago. The “hold” on games dropped to 11.6 percent from 13.7 percent a year earlier. Baccarat was the only game that increased, up 16.1 percent over January 2008.

Streshley said the Chinese New Year fell in January this year, accounting for the strong Baccarat play.

The state collected $47 million in taxes, down 42.3 percent from January 2008.

For Strip casinos, which account for 53 percent of gaming statewide, it was the 13th straight month of a decline. Other markets in Clark County got hit even harder with gross win off 22.6 percent in downtown Las Vegas, down 22.9 percent on the Boulder Strip and 20.7 percent in the balance of the county.

Slot machine win dipped 19.9 percent; 21 was off 7.9 percent; craps was down 23.4 percent; roulette was off 39.6 percent and sports pool fell 68.2 percent.

Streshley said the casinos statewide lost $1.8 million on college football bowl games and NFL playoff games. The Super Bowl was played in February and that will be recorded in the board’s next report.

In downtown Las Vegas, slot win fell 22.1 percent and games were off 25.5 percent. Boulder Strip recorded a 22.2 percent drop in slot win and a 32.6 percent decline in games.

Slot win in the casinos in the balance of Clark County dropped by 25 percent but game and table win inched up 1.5 percent.

The board reported gross win at casinos in North Las Vegas fell by 11.2 percent after posting a 21.7 percent increase in December. Slot win in North Las Vegas was off 16.2 percent but game and table win increased 43.8 percent.

Laughlin was down by 10.3 percent, the 13th consecutive month of a decrease. Slot win fell 10.2 percent and game win dropped 11.6 percent. Gaming in Mesquite dropped 15.1 percent with slot win off 17.2 percent and game win down by 2.4 percent.

The only markets statewide to show an increase in gross win were Elko County, up 9.7 percent and Carson City rose 3.3 percent.

Streshley had no explanation why Carson City rose other than the budget committees of the Legislature started hearings that month, drawing people to the area. He said the Elko County increase was due to the gold mining activity.

Washoe County was off 0.02 percent, the 19th straight month of a decline. South Lake Tahoe fell 23.7 percent

Asked for comment on the decline on gaming figures, Gov. Jim Gibbons said, “We keep saying the end of this economic downturn has not been reached yet in Nevada. Obliviously our numbers from the gaming win are verifying this.”

He said it is “very troubling to see our state suffer like this.” But he repeated his stance that now is not the time to raise taxes “when we are seeing more and more difficulty with out economy.”

Cy Ryan may be reached at (775) 687 5032 or [email protected].

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