Nevada casino revenue up 5.7 percent in February

AP News
Posted: Apr 10, 2012 3:40 PM
Nevada casino revenue up 5.7 percent in February

Gambling revenue for Nevada casinos was up 5.7 percent in February to $932.2 million, state regulators said Tuesday.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said roughly 40 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip collected revenue of $530.7 million, up 3.3 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

Though gambling revenue grew on the Las Vegas Strip, the rate was outpaced in all but five areas in the state. The Strip accounted for 56.9 percent of Nevada gambling revenue if February, compared with 58.2 percent in February 2011.

Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said the numbers showed several positive signs, even after accounting for a 3.5 percent bump because of the leap year adding a day to the month.

"It was a really broad-based growth story," he said. "It wasn't just baccarat and the Strip _ it was pretty widespread."

This February's results on the Strip were hurt by the shift to January for most of the Chinese New Year holiday _ the most important gambling holiday for Strip resorts.

Las Vegas Strip casinos won $113.9 million from baccarat, down nearly 19 percent from the same month last year but still far more than the amount won from blackjack, craps, roulette and other table games.

Analyst Mark Strawn of Morgan Stanley Research said that while baccarat weighed on the results, the Strip is showing signs of sustainable recovery at its core.

"Given the calendar shift, we believe February's results should be viewed on a two-month combined basis with January, and total Las Vegas Strip gaming revenue was up 16 percent in January and February (combined)," Strawn told investors in a note.

Strawn said that excluding baccarat, mass revenue for the Las Vegas Strip was up 12 percent.

Downtown Las Vegas brought in $45 million and was up 13.7 percent in February. The Boulder Strip brought in $72 million that month, up nearly 23 percent.

Reno casino winnings jumped 8.2 percent to $44 million, while South Lake Tahoe numbers climbed 10.3 percent to $15 million in February.

Lawton said the state's casinos have now had five straight months of year-over-year growth, which hasn't happened since 2006.

"We're starting to trend in ways that we really, really want to," Lawton said.

The state collected more than $70 million in taxes on the winnings, which was a 69 percent increase compared with a year ago.

Regulators said gambling revenue was $7.28 billion for the first eight months of the fiscal year, which began in July, up nearly 4 percent.

Taxes collected for the fiscal year were up 4.4 percent to $481.7 million.


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