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Strip casinos post nearly 33 percent gain in February


Justin M. Bowen / File photo

Recent economic reports are beginning to show small signs of recovery on the Las Vegas Strip.

Updated Thursday, April 8, 2010 | 10:20 a.m.

CARSON CITY – Buoyed by Chinese New Year and the Super Bowl, Las Vegas Strip casinos in February posted their biggest win percentage gain since November 1999.

The 41 casinos posted a gross win of $567.8 million, up 32.8 percent compared to the same month in 2009. Other areas in Clark County reported lower winnings for February compared to a year ago.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported today that statewide the win at casinos reached $946.6 million, an increase of 13.9 percent and only the second gain in the past 26 months.

Frank Streshley, chief of tax and licensing for the board, said this was the largest monthly increase statewide since December 2006 and the first double-digit increase since July 2007.

“It was a good month,” Streshley said.

Chinese New Year draws high-rolling players to the Baccarat tables, and Strip casinos reported record winnings of $205 million, up a whopping 255.2 percent. Streshley said the casinos also showed a win percentage of 17 percent in Baccarat in February, up from the traditional 12 percent.

Football betting on the Strip yielded $3.1 million, up 984.9 percent.

Chinese New Year shifts back and forth between January and February, but the full Super Bowl weekend fell in February this year. Last year, part of the football weekend was in January.

The board said downtown Las Vegas casinos won $42.2 million, down 5.7 percent; North Las Vegas casinos reported winnings of $22.3 million, off 14.4 percent.

Laughlin casinos took in $44.7 million, down 1.2 percent, but it was the smallest decline in the past 12 months. Boulder strip casinos won $61.4 million, off 2.2 percent. Mesquite casinos fell 5.8 percent to $10.5 million, but it also was the smallest decline in the past 12 months. Casino win in the rest of Clark County dropped 15.4 percent to $78.4 million.

On the Strip, which makes up 53 percent of the state’s total, the win from slot machines fell 8.5 percent to $207.9 million. The only slot to show an increase was the penny “one-armed bandit,” where the win grew by 8.7 percent.

The gaming board said win from Blackjack on the Strip fell 6.4 percent; craps grew 4 percent and roulette jumped 59.7 percent. Keno was off 10.9 percent but Pai Gow winnings increased 114.3 percent and the sports books posted an 11.3 percent gain.

For this fiscal year, tax collections are off 5.2 percent to $453 million, but Streshley said the tax collections are down because many of the high-end players on Baccarat wager on credit and make good on their markers in the coming months.

Streshley said there were positive signs in the slot machine play. The slot win statewide fell by 7 percent, but the amount wagered was $8.9 billion, down only 2.3 percent. “We are starting to see positive signs in the slot spending,” he said.

The board said casinos in Washoe County won $60.9 million, up 2.7 percent and the first gain in 32 months. South Lake Tahoe casinos fell 15.3 percent to $14 million; Carson Valley casinos reported winnings of $7.8 million, up 0.5 percent and Elko County casinos posted $23.7 million, up 0.58 percent.

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