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Gaming Guru

Cy Ryan
 

Nevada's Casinos Win Big in March

11 May 2004

CARSON CITY -- Nevada casinos won $930.3 million in March, a record for a single month, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

Powered by big year-over-year increases on the Strip, in North Las Vegas and on Boulder Highway, the March results included big jumps in the amount won from table-game and slot-machine gamblers.

Table game win was up 6.9 percent to $274 million, while slot machines produced their all-time biggest monthly haul, $648.5 million, 13.2 percent more than slots won from gamblers in March 2003.

Casino stocks advanced on the news this morning, including those of Strip giants Caesars Entertainment (up 25 cents at $12.74), Mandalay Resort Group (up 80 cents at $52.40) and MGM MIRAGE (up 92 cents at $42.76). Locals player Station Casinos was up 38 cents at $43.71 and Harrah's Entertainment, with operations downtown and on and near the Strip, was up 81 cents at $52.95.

The March win of $930.3 million was a gain of 11.4 percent from the $834.7 million won from gamblers in March 2003 and the second straight month the state's 349 casinos reported a double-digit increase.

Frank Streshley, senior research analyst, said the previous monthly record was $899.8 million in January 2001, and the previous slot record was $584.2 million in September 2003.

There were strong results everywhere in Clark County, except downtown Las Vegas, which suffered a 10.9 percent decline, a drop Streshley linked to the January closings of the Castaways and the reopened-in-April Binion's Horseshoe.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said in a Tuesday statement: "Clearly the state is benefiting from the resurgence and overall strength of Las Vegas, but just as encouraging, we are seeing signs of recovery in other markets."

The two straight months of double digit increases statewide, will mean that gaming revenues will complete the fiscal year June 30 in "a positive position," Guinn added.

Streshley said January and February this year were the third and fourth best months for gaming in history, meaning 2004 has thus far produced three of the four best months.

He said the gaming business in Las Vegas was "running flat" in the fall and winter months but "picked up substantially" since the start of the year. He said this mirrors the recovering national and California economy.

Usually big increases like those reported so far this year come with the opening of new casinos, he said. But in this period, some clubs closed, he said.

The board, which released the report today, said $81 million was collected in taxes, up 38.2 percent from a year ago. Part of the increased revenue comes from the raised gaming tax, which was boosted by 8.6 percent in the 2003 Legislature, to a to rate of 6.75 percent, lowest in the U.S.

For this fiscal year, the state has collected $566.9 million in taxes, up 20.6 percent. The Legislature forecast an increase of 10.6 percent for this fiscal year.

Statewide, slot machines carried the day, producing gross revenue of $648.5 million, up 13.1 percent. Winnings on the games grossed $274 million, an increase of 6.8 percent from the same month of a year ago.

The board reported the gross win on blackjack rose 10.9 percent statewide; craps was up 20.5 percent; roulette slipped 8.3 percent; baccarat's gross win fell by 7.4 percent and the sports pool was off by 32 percent.

Streshley said he was "surprised" by the fall in the sports pool and did not offer a reason for the drop.

The growing popularity of the penny slot machines was evident with a gain of 162.5 percent. Megabucks was down 67.4 percent but quarter machines rose by 2 percent.

The 38 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip reported a $465.4 million win, an increase of 17.6 percent. This was the third straight month of double-digit gains on the Strip.

The board reported the 55,832 slot machines in Strip casinos won $266.7 million, up 21.8 percent. This was a record slot machine win for the Strip, surpassing the $239.3 million reached in September 2003.

The penny slots recorded an increase of 124.5 percent; quarter machines rose 12.4 percent but Megabucks was off 64.1 percent, again due to the jackpot at the Palms.

Table games on the Strip yielded a gross win of $194.3 million, up 11.8 percent. The board said revenue on blackjack games rose 20.9 percent; craps was up 33.4 percent; roulette was down 9.2 percent; Baccarat was off 5.3 percent and the sports pool fell 33.1 percent compared to March 2003.

Downtown Las Vegas reported $56.6 million in gross revenue, the second month in the last three for a decline. In January revenues were off 10.3 percent.

Slot win in downtown Las Vegas fell 7.1 percent to $42.2 million. Table game revenue was off 20.2 percent to $14.2 million.

Casinos in North Las Vegas generated a win of $25 million, up 13.3 percent. Last month the gross revenue rose by 20.3 percent, an all-time record, Streshley said. Slot machine win was up 11.8 percent and game revenue rose 24.5 percent.

Laughlin casinos reported $55.9 million, up 5.7 percent. Slot machine win increased 8.2 percent but game and table revenue fell 11.1 percent.

The board said Boulder Strip clubs won $75.7 million, up 17.3 percent. Last month the Boulder casinos registered an increase of 17.2 percent. This was also an all-time high, and it comes on top of a 23.2 percent increase last year. Slot machine revenue rose 18 percent and game win increased 11.4 percent.

Mesquite casinos won $11.8 million, up 8 percent. It was also a record high. Slot machines produced a 10.3 percent game but table games fell 4.7 percent.

Clubs in the balance of Clark County produced $85.6 million in gross win up 13.7 percent. Last month the win was up 21.3 percent. It was also a record high. Slot machines were up 16.8 percent and game and table win fell 3.1 percent.