CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada casinos won $961 million in October, posting an 8.1 percent increase compared with the same time last year thanks to heavy play on baccarat - a high-roller game that draws international players from Asia, state regulators reported Friday.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board report said winnings on the Las
Vegas Strip were up 13.3 percent in October after bringing in nearly $561 million that month. The percent gain comes against a tough comparison with the same month last year, when Strip resorts saw winnings increase 16.1 percent.
On the Strip, October's casino win "represents the first double-digit increase for the Strip versus a double digit comparison since July 2007," said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board.
Nevada collected $65.4 million in taxes based on October statewide casino winnings, an 8.6 percent increase compared with last year.
The statewide and Strip gains were fueled by baccarat. "Golden Week" baccarat tournaments were held in October at the Wynn Las
Vegas and MGM Resorts, Lawton said. Other special events in Las
Vegas - the state's tourism and economic hub - included an Indy car race and a UFC match.
Gamblers wagered $842.4 million on baccarat, up $337.2 million, or 66.7 percent, posting a record amount for the month, Lawton said. The $158.2 million won by casinos on the game was also a record for October and represents a 73.3 percent increase over the same month a year ago.
The "casino win" is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $12 billion on slot machines, card and table games and sports betting. The $9.3 billion pumped into slot machines and video poker games was down $2.9 million from October 2010.
Gamblers spent $2.7 billion on table games, an increase of $299.2 million or 12.2 percent.
Without baccarat, table game volume was down 2 percent, or $38 million, Lawton said, and the total statewide win would have posted a fractional gain of 0.7 percent.
For the last fiscal year that ended June 30, baccarat accounted
for 20 percent of total winnings on the Strip.
"It's becoming more and more dominant," Lawton said.
In smaller southern Nevada markets, winnings rose 8.1 percent in
downtown Las Vegas; 15.4 percent in North Las Vegas; 13.8 percent
along the Boulder Strip.
But analysts were unimpressed with the gains in the so-called local markets - a sector hard hit by the recession in a state that leads the nation unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
"We continue to be apprehensive about the overall recovery in the Las Vegas locals market," Bill Lerner, an analyst with Union
Gaming, said in a note to clients.
He said while the Las Vegas unemployment rate has declined, he
characterized it as a "false positive" due to a shrinking labor force rather than economic improvement.
Elsewhere around the state, winnings fell 12.3 percent in Reno and 9.3 percent in Washoe County as a whole. Elko saw a decline of nearly 2 percent while the Carson Valley region that includes Carson City and the valley portion of Douglas County dropped 3.8 percent.
South Lake Tahoe clubs reported gains of 4 percent.