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Cy Ryan

Gaming Win Hits Record $1 Billion

11 May 2005

CARSON CITY -- For the first time Nevada's casinos won more than $1 billion from gamblers in a month.

After two sluggish months, Nevada casinos bounced back in March, reporting winnings of $1.03 billion, an increase of 10.9 percent from a year ago.

The state Gaming Control Board said today the $1.03 billion surpasses the previous record month of $930.3 million set in March 2004.

And every market in Clark County, except downtown Las Vegas, produced a record monthly win.

For the first time, the Las Vegas Strip exceeded $500 million in winnings in a month, winning $514.4 million from gamblers, said Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the board. The previous Strip record was $491.9 million, set last October.

Streshley said busy Las Vegas convention business as well as exceptionally strong demand by leisure travelers fueled the Strip and statewide records.

The board reported the 341 casinos in the state had strong slot machine win, up 10.9 percent, and table-game win, up 9.8 percent.

Gov. Kenny Guinn issued a statement: "March's solid gaming results mark a milestone for Nevada's gaming industry by surpassing $1 billion in win for the month and is another solid indicator that our state's economy is doing exceptionally well."

Guinn added: "This month's impressive numbers were accomplished prior to the opening of Wynn Las Vegas, which hopefully will spur even greater growth in the coming months."

Streshley said there was strong convention business, particularly in Las Vegas, which hosted the ConExpo-Con/Agg session, with 135,000 people attending.

Leisure travel was up, he said, noting that there usually is a slowdown in travel due to the Easter weekend. This year business was stronger than normal.

"Leisure travel continues to go through the roof," Streshley said, noting that visitation has been boosted by a weak dollar that fuels visitation from Europe and Asia. He also noted that high gas prices have yet to hurt the state's casino business, which also depends on drive-in traffic.

Streshley noted the local markets in Clark County all produced double-digit growth, a trend he predicted would continue.

The state's casinos earlier reported a January gaming win increase of 3.9 percent followed by a 3.7 percent jump in February.

Gaming win is the money won from gamblers, totaled before taxes and business expenses.

So far this fiscal year, the casinos have paid the state $590.4 million in taxes or 0.2 percent below the tax revenue projections the Economic Forum just made. The $88.6 million collected in March was a record, surpassing the previous $81.7 million set in March a year ago.

A breakdown of the state's results showed slot machines produced a monthly record $719.6 million, up 10.9 percent and table games yielded $301 million, a jump of 9.8 percent.

The 42 casinos along the Las Vegas Strip reported $514.4 million in gaming win, up 10.5 percent from a year ago in March. Slot machine revenue rose to $291.4 million, up 9.2 percent.

Baccarat in the Strip casinos generated $40.1 million in win, up 86.3 percent; the blackjack games yielded $76.2 million, up 5.9 percent; craps produced $33.2 million, an increase of 9.3 percent; and roulette games won $21.1 million, an increase of 34.5 percent.

Streshley said the big baccarat win was surprising because the high-end players usually come to Las Vegas during New Year's and the Chinese New Year in February.

The 34 sports books on the Strip won $5 million, down 1.5 percent from a year ago. Streshley said the drop was due to winning Super Bowl bettors who placed their bets earlier but collected in March.

The 19 casinos in downtown Las Vegas produced a win of $63.1 million, an increase of 11.4 percent. It was the biggest percentage gain since an 11.4 percent jump in January 2003. Gross revenue from slot machines reached $47 million, up 11.2 percent, and winnings from table games jumped 8.8 percent to $15.5 million.

Although it did not set a record, Streshley said the revenue in downtown Las Vegas was "one of the best months we ever had."

The 11 casinos in North Las Vegas reported $28.2 million in gross revenue, up 12.6 percent. Slot-machine win jumped 11.2 percent to $25.2 million. Table game win jumped 25.8 percent to $2.7 million.

After a poor February, the 10 casinos in Laughlin reported March winnings of $61.5 million, up 10 percent. Win had declined by 2.4 percent in February. Slot-machine winnings in March totaled $53.6 million, up 9.5 percent and table-game win was $7.4 million, up 12.4 percent.

The board said the 33 casinos near the Boulder Strip won $85.1 million, up 12.4 percent. Slot revenue reached $75.2 million, an increase of 13.5 percent. Table game gross win was $9.2 million, up 2.8 percent. It was the eighth straight month of increased winnings on the Boulder Strip.

The seven casinos in Mesquite won $13.8 million, up 17.2 percent. Slot machines produced $11.7 million, an increase of 17.2 percent and table games rose 16.5 percent to $2 million.

The "balance of Clark County" market, which has become the second biggest gaming area in the state, surpassing Reno's Washoe County market, reported winnings of $98.7 million, an increase of 15.2 percent. Win from slot machines reached $83.4 million, up 13.1 percent and table games produced $14.7 million, an increase of 27.5 percent.

The board reported Washoe County clubs won $86.3 percent, an increase of only 0.7 percent; South Lake Tahoe casinos, after two months of declines because of poor weather, won $34.3 million, a 28.5 percent increase.