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Rod Smith

Nevada Gaming Results Up

13 August 2004

NEVADA --Nevada's gaming industry propped up the state's economy in June with a total gaming win of $855.5 million, up nearly 6 percent from a year earlier, the state Gaming Control Board reported Thursday.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, the gaming win was $10.1 billion, also up 6 percent from the previous fiscal year.

And even though the June growth rate in casino business fell from the double digit rates of previous months, the state tax man raked in gaming taxes of $54.4 million in July on the June win, an increase 22 percent from a year earlier.

The soaring tax payments stemmed not just from growth, but also from last year's approval of an increase in the gross receipts tax on gaming win from 6.25 to 6.75 percent for top-tier casino companies, control board statistical analyst Frank Streshley said.

Brian Gordon, spokesman for Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas-based financial consulting firm, added the increased tax payments were largely the result of the strong economy, which also helped casinos accelerate collections from credit players.

Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the gaming win is a fair reflection of how well the local economy and the gaming industry are doing, but the tax bill reflects month-to-month idiosyncracies like credit collections that even out over the course of a year and over the business cycle.

He said it is also important to remember that the bulk of the gross receipts tax on gaming win falls on out-of-state consumers.

Still, Nevadans for Sound Government leader George Harris, a tax critic, said the state take demonstrated the need to cut taxes, following the largest tax increase in the state's history last year.

"Gov. (Kenny) Guinn along with key bureaucrats have crafted legislation to rape the public. In June, they announced a $122 million surplus. This just adds to it. Let's get this money back quickly, before they figure out some way to spend it," he said.

The gross receipts tax collections for July were 23 percent larger than the May 2003 Economic Forum's projections, which figured prominently in the Legislature passing the $836 million tax increase package.

Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin, however, said cutting taxes would be a disaster for Nevada.

"If the Legislature didn't pass the budget in the last session, the governor would be faced with having to make $270 million in cuts to eduction, welfare and public safety in the first year of the biennium alone, and that would double over the course of the biennium. George, unfortunately, speaks without having the facts," he said.

Schwer said the data show the gaming industry's strength is holding up well despite some softening in the national economic recovery.

He said the double digit growth from previous months could never have been maintained, although the gaming industry continues to outperform other sectors in the local economy such as retail sales, which increased only 0.7 percent in June.

"That's like comparing trips to Pottery Barn and Wal-Mart to gambling, but it also shows other sectors are not as strong as gaming," he said.

Despite the chill in growth rates, and the decline from the $908.2 million statewide gaming win in May, Streshley said the most recent win was a record for any June and the fifth consecutive monthly record.

He said the Memorial Day weekend, with both a Madonna concert and an Oscar De La Hoya fight pumped up the June gaming win and credit play, which added to receivable income in June.

However, Streshley also said operators have said business cooled off as the month progressed.

Clark County casinos again drove the state's casino win in June, reporting $704.3 million in monthly winnings, up 7.3 percent from a year earlier. The county's largest win was on the Strip where casinos took in $420.6 million, up 4.3 percent, but its fastest growing single area was the Boulder Strip with $72.2 million, up 17.4 percent from June 2003.

Statewide, baccarat winnings in June were $41.7 million, down 8 percent, while blackjack winnings climbed to $89.8 million, a 1 percent increase. Craps winnings were down slightly at $31.4 million. Slot winnings were up 10 percent for a total win of $601.7 million.

In a statement, Guinn said: "We should all be pleased that our state's gaming win finished the fiscal year 5.7 percent more than a year ago. This turnaround in revenues is a key sign of a sustained economic recovery and suggests this trend will continue into the next fiscal year."