Casinos Win $9.63 Billion In 2003, Up Slightly

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Nevada casinos won $9.63 billion from gamblers in 2003 - up slightly from 2002 totals as the state's tourism-dependent economy continues its slow recovery from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The win reported Wednesday by the state Gaming Control Board is what was left in casino coffers from $139 billion bet during calendar 2003. That means the clubs held onto just under 7 percent of all money wagered on table games, in slot machines or on sports events.

Frank Streshley of the GCB said the $9.63 billion calendar-year win was up 1.9 percent compared with the casino win in 2002.

While that's an improvement from a 0.3 percent slump a year earlier, Streshley added the win is "really still flat" compared with the steady growth seen during the 1990's.

"We're still in a very slow recovery mode," Streshley said, noting that 2003 started off strong but slowed in the spring as a result of the Iraq war.

Streshley also said the 2003 report shows all major markets in southern Nevada had increases, while all northern markets other than the Minden-Carson City area had decreases in win.

"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.

A breakdown shows Las Vegas Strip resorts accounted for $4.76 billion of the total win. That's up 2.3 percent from the 2002 win.

The Reno-Sparks-North Tahoe area in northern Nevada had yearly winnings of $1.01 billion, down 2.4 percent from 2002. Streshley said that's the third straight annual decrease and the lowest total for the area since 1997.

Resorts on Lake Tahoe's south shore won $335.5 million in 2003, down 0.3 percent from 2002 totals.

Elsewhere in the north, Elko County winnings of $219.6 million were down 3.9 percent from year to year; and the Minden-Carson City win of $103 million was up 5.9 percent.

Casinos in Churchill County won $17.5 million, up 5.4 percent; clubs in Humboldt County won $17 million, down 0.04 percent; and casinos in White Pine County won $5.6 million, up 3.3 percent.

The $9.63 billion statewide win included $6.48 billion from slot machines, up 3.3 percent from 2001, and $3.08 billion from table games, down 1.2 percent.

A breakdown of games that produced the most revenue in 2003 shows the clubs won $1.12 billion on blackjack; $419.2 million on craps; and $365.9 million from baccarat.

Dollar slots won $1.23 billion; quarter slots won $1.93 billion; nickel slots won $1.44 billion; and multi-denomination slots won nearly $1.1 billion.

The calendar year ended with a December win of $767.3 million, down 1 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. Streshley said gambling volume was up, but gamblers tended to be lucky and that cut into what the casinos had expected in their win.

Factors that reduced the win included a $9 million Megabucks jackpot paid in Las Vegas, a 67 percent statewide slump in sports book winnings, and a nearly 12 percent drop in the resorts' craps win.

For the current fiscal year to date, the state's revenues from gambling total about $359.8 million, 3.1 percent above forecast amounts. That included $39.4 million in taxes based on the December casino win, 9.3 percent below their forecast.

"This month's news illustrates that gaming revenues have been volatile this fiscal year," Gov. Kenny Guinn said. "As we head into the remaining months of the fiscal year, I am hopeful that the little bit of cushion we have accumulated will remain."