Nev. gambling revenue falls 12.5 pct. in January

Nevada gambling revenue falls 12.5 percent in January, but state collections up from year ago

Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Nevada casino revenues fell 12.5 percent in January, a decline blamed in large part on the timing of the Chinese New Year, the state Gaming Control Board reported Friday.

Casinos statewide took in $909.2 million in January, down $129.2 million from the same month in 2012.

"The main driving force behind this decrease, last year Chinese New Year celebrations occurred in January," said Mike Lawton, senior control board analyst. "This year they occurred in February."

Having the traditional New Year's Eve fall on a Monday this year also contributed to the decline. Last year it was on a Saturday, which tends to draw more weekend celebrants.

Still, the decline marked the largest percentage drop since July 2009.

The $507 million in winnings on the Las Vegas Strip fell nearly 19 percent, while downtown Las Vegas revenues of about $45 million represented a 5 percent decline.

Casinos in Washoe County won nearly $53 million, which is 2 percent less than in January 2012.

Elsewhere, casino revenues fell 17 percent in Elko County, 5.7 percent in the Carson Valley area of western Nevada, and 2.6 percent at South Lake Tahoe.

The "win" is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $10.7 billion on card and dice games, sports betting and slot machines. A breakdown shows the $8.2 billion pumped into slot and video gambling machines fell $211 million, or 2.5 percent, from January 2012. Patrons spent $2.6 billion on card and table games, down $824 million or 24.3 percent.

Casino winnings and volume of play for baccarat, a volatile, high-roller game favored by Asian players, was also a big factor in the revenue decline and coincides with the shift of Chinese New Year, regulators said.

Baccarat winnings of $97.5 million in January were nearly twice as much a year earlier. The dollar amount wagered, nearly $809 million, fell $751 million, or 48.2 percent.

The state collected $68 million in taxes based on the January revenue, an increase of more than 18 percent year-over-year. Tax collections and casino winning do not always mirror each other because a lot of casino betting is done on credit, and taxes aren't due until gamblers make good on their debt.

For the fiscal that began in July, casino tax collections so far are 2.5 percent, or $10.7 million, above projections the Economic Forum made in November. An independent panel, the forum is tasked with estimating Nevada tax revenues, and its forecasts must be used by the governor and state lawmakers to build a budget.

The Forum will meet again sometime in May to update its forecast before a final budget is adopted by the 2013 Legislature.

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