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Strip gaming win sees smallest decline since June 2008

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 | 9:49 a.m.

CARSON CITY – For the 21st straight month gambling winnings on the Las Vegas Strip fell in September, but state officials saw some signs of hope in revenue figures.

The state Gaming Control Board reported that Strip casinos won $506.3 million, down 3.5 percent from the same month of 2008. But it was the smallest decline since June 2008, when the drop was 3 percent.

Statewide, casinos won $911.1 million, a decrease of 8.9 percent. Every major market showed a decline. It was the also the 21st consecutive month of a drop in gross win for the 252 casinos.

It was also the first month since March that gaming win has exceeded $900 million, officials said.

On the Strip there were increased winnings, computed before taxes and expenses, in craps, roulette and baccarat and a jump in the sports pool. September was the first full month of betting on college and pro football this season. The Mayweather-Marquez fight at the MGM on Sept. 19 also helped the Strip bring in some high play business.

Frank Streshley, chief of tax and licensing for the board, said it was a “favorable calendar month” with all of the Labor Day holiday falling in September. In September 2008, two of the weekend Labor Day holidays fell in August.

The board said winnings in downtown Las Vegas fell to $44.7 million, off 8.6 percent; North Las Vegas was off 8 percent to $24 million; Laughlin casinos fell 12.1 percent to $39 million; Boulder Strip gaming was off 28 percent to $63 million; Mesquite dropped 12.6 percent to $9 million and the balance of Clark County casinos declined 20.8 percent to $87.7 million.

September was the 22nd consecutive month of decline in Laughlin and the 16th straight month of a decline in downtown Las Vegas.

Strip casinos, which account for 53 percent of the state’s gaming win, saw winnings on the craps tables rose 44.9 percent; roulette was up 34.8 percent and the baccarat gain was 30.4 percent. The sports pool jumped 23.4 percent.

Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said it was a bad month on the Strip but it could have been worse without the increase in baccarat. “Baccarat shored up the loss from the slots,” Bible said.

But winnings on the 21 game dropped 26 percent. It was the 17th straight month that 21 gross win has declined. And Keno was off 20.2 percent.

In slot machines, only the penny units on the Strip showed an increase in gross win, up 1.3 percent. Biggest declines were in the five cent slots, down 47.1 percent; the $25 slot, down 37.7 percent and the quarter machines off 33.7 percent.

Bible said the performance in the gaming industry reflects the national, global and state’s economic troubles. It’s not a good time for an industry that relies on discretionary spending, he said.

Washoe County casinos reported $72.1 million in win, down 6.3 percent; South Lake Tahoe was off 10.8 percent to $21.8 percent; Elko County casinos fell seven percent to $22.3 million and Carson Valley clubs reported $8.1 million in gross win, down 3.9 percent.

The board said the casinos paid $54.2 million in taxes, down 14.5 percent from the same month of a year ago. And for the first four months of this fiscal year, tax collections are off 9.7 percent.

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