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Rod Smith

Nevada Economy: Gaming Win Hits $11.6 Billion

13 February 2006

Gaming win in Nevada, ignited by the opening of Wynn Las Vegas and thriving locals casinos, set a record in 2005 by raking in $11.6 billion -- up 10.3 percent from $10.6 billion the previous year, officials said Friday.

"Las Vegas has never been hotter, which shows in the gaming numbers through the end of the year," said Brian Gordon, a partner in Las Vegas-based financial consultants Applied Analysis. "The casinos had record revenues of nearly $1 billion a month in gaming win, which is the best the state has ever seen."

In addition to the opening of Wynn Las Vegas, the state's first new megaresort since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, casinos rode a crest of healthy national economic climate and sizable real-estate growth, Gordon said.

Frank Streshley, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said the year's increase marked the fastest growth rate since 1999, following the opening of Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, Paris Las Vegas and Bellagio.

"Looking at the (2005) numbers, the statewide win increased 8.4 percent in the first six months and 12.2 percent in the second six months following the opening of Wynn (Las Vegas)," he said. "The Strip already was enjoying great growth, but Wynn (Las Vegas) added fuel and a must-see destination."

Strip casinos in 2005 took in $6 billion, up 13.1 percent from $5.3 billion a year earlier.

Streshley said the win for Strip casinos in 2005 was 51.8 percent of the state total. It passed 50 percent for the first time in 2004 when it hit 50.5 percent, he said.

The Las Vegas numbers were even more impressive, coming on top of an increase of 9.7 percent in 2004, he said.

Furthermore, each month in 2005 marked a record for that respective month, Streshley said.

The statewide win also marked only the second time the total win broke the $10 billion barrier. The first time was 2004.

Gaming win is what was left from the $162.2 billion bet during 2005. That means casinos held onto 7.2 percent of all money wagered. "Win" is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. And it's casino revenue only -- separate from hotel, restaurant or bar revenue.

Over the 10-year period from 1995 through 2005, total gaming win increased an average of 4.8 percent, with slot win increasing 5.6 percent on average and table win increasing 3.4 percent on average, Streshley said.

The slot win increased 9.4 percent in 2005 after increasing 9.6 percent in 2004, and the game and table win increased 12.1 percent in 2005 on average and 10 percent in 2004 on average, he said.

Only downtown Las Vegas had a decrease in gaming win in 2005, with its casinos bringing in $654.2 million, down 1.3 percent from $663.3 million in 2004.

Streshley said North Las Vegas enjoyed the fastest growth in the state, with casinos taking in $302.2 million, up 17.2 percent from $257.7 million a year earlier. It was trailed by Mesquite, where casinos took in $142.8 million, up 16.6 percent from $122.1 million in 2004.

The gaming win in 2005 in Washoe County increased to $1.05 billion, up 2.3 percent from $1.02 billion in 2004; in South Lake Tahoe, it fell to $335.4 million, down 0.8 percent from $338.1 million; in the Carson Valley, it increased to $124.6 million, up 10.7 percent from $112.6 million in 2004; and in Elko County, it increased to $258.4 million, up 11.2 percent from $232.4 million in 2004.

Growth was even stronger in the locals gaming market, Streshley said.

Steve Ruggerio, gaming analyst with CRT Capital Group, said population growth, job growth and economic growth are driving the locals market.

"The results underscore the strength of the Nevada economy and show growth in the gaming industry is spread pretty well throughout the state, with a lot of strength on the Strip and among locals casinos," Ruggerio said.

For the year, baccarat win increased 33.9 percent to $665,548, while the slot machine win increased 9.4 percent to $7.8 million.

For December, Nevada's casinos reported a win of $907.4 million, up 6.5 percent from $852.1 million a year earlier.

Marc Falcone said baccarat volume was particularly important, increasing statewide 211 percent in December to $847 million, yielding a win of $91 million, up 67 percent from the year before.

For the month, the slot machine win increased 3.25 percent to $553.4 million.

The state collected $43.4 million in gaming taxes in January based on the taxable revenues generated in December, up 5.9 percent from $41 million a year earlier.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the revenues show Nevada is continuing to enjoy the fruits of the gaming industry's success.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.