Casinos Show 2.6 Percent Gain in July

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Nevada casinos won $825.5 million from gamblers in July to start the fiscal year with a 2.6 percent gain over the same month a year earlier, the state Gaming Control Board said Tuesday.

The increase was well below the 13.3 percent month-over-month increase reported in June by the clubs. A breakdown showed a record dollar win for July for southern Nevada resorts, but percentage declines in most northern Nevada markets.

"We're definitely seeing stronger improvements in the southern part of the state, but that's somewhat offset by the northern part of the state,"the GCB's Frank Streshley said.

Travel to Nevada is slowly increasing since a slowdown that followed the mid-March start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, Streshley said. But he added casino action during the three-day Fourth of July holiday was"a little soft, a bit below expectations."

The state's percentage fees based on the July win amounted to $53.9 million. After casino tax hikes approved by the 2003 Legislature are figured in, the state's fee collections will have to increase an average of 5.5 percent a month for the rest of the fiscal year to meet projections.

The win is what was left in casino coffers from $11.5 billion bet by gamblers during July."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 revenues generated by the resorts.

The record $655.9 million July win for casinos in Clark County included a 7 percent gain, to $397.7 million, for Las Vegas Strip resorts. Increases also were reported by most other southern Nevada markets, including a big 22.8 percent gain for North Las Vegas clubs. The Boulder Strip had a 7.2 percent decline.

The Reno-Sparks-North Tahoe area in northern Nevada had July winnings of $90.6 million, down 5.7 percent. A breakdown shows Reno was down 5.7 percent while Sparks was down 0.8 percent.

Resorts on Lake Tahoe's south shore won $39.9 million, down 5.4 percent from July 2002 totals. That's the fourth straight month of declines for the south shore clubs.

Elsewhere in the north, Elko County winnings of $19.6 million were down 2.4 percent; and the Minden-Carson City win of $8.8 million was up 7.4 percent.

The $825.5 million statewide win included $582 million from slot machines, up 2.6 percent; and $237.8 million from table games, down 1.3 percent.

Games that produced the most revenue included blackjack at $94.9 million; craps at $31.7 million; and baccarat at $21.6 million. Sports books won $1.1 million.

Dollar slots won $113.3 million; quarter slots won $177.2 million; and nickel slots won $130.2 million.