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Nevada gaming win up statewide, down in Washoe County

By ThisIsReno

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

CARSON CITY – Nevada casinos had an impressive month in July, taking in just over $1 billion in revenue from gamblers for a 17 percent gain over July 2011, the state Gaming Control Board reported today.

It was the second $1 billion month this calendar year, which has not occurred in Nevada since 2008, said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the state gaming agency.

“A $1 billion month is a number that we like to see, it’s a very strong number,” he said.

The Las Vegas Strip was up 27.5 percent with revenues totaling $597.5 million, according to the monthly gaming report.

The solid performance comes after two months of declines for the gaming industry statewide.

Baccarat, the card game played by high rollers on the Strip, was the major factor in the big win.

Baccarat win totaled $189.9 million, up 111.8 percent  or $100.2 million. The dramatic numbers are due in large part to the amount “held” or won from the card players, Lawton said. The hold was 16.03 percent versus 9.76 percent in July 2011. The normal hold is in the mid-12 percent range.

But the amount wagered by players was up as well, which is encouraging, he said. Baccarat volume was $1.2 billion, up $266 million, or 28.9 percent.

“We we’re pretty surprised,” Lawton said. “That’s the third largest baccarat win in state history.”

Slot play was up in July as well, by 8.6 percent, or $46.9 million, over July 2011, he said.

Nearly all Clark County markets were up in July, with downtown Las Vegas reporting a 16.4 percent gain, North Las Vegas reporting a 36.1 percent gain, and the Boulder Strip showing a 17.3 percent increase. Laughlin was down modestly by 0.5 percent.

The big win comes even as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported a slight decline in visitor volume in July, down 0.8 percent over July 2011 to 3.44 million.

“We want to see a nice blend of our baccarat business and our mass market business and right now, baccarat is carrying a little bit more load,” he said. “But there’s some easier comps in the back half of this year that we think, hopefully by the end of the year, we’ll see a better blend than we are right now.”

The rest of the state did not perform as well. Washoe County showed an 8.2 percent decline with $64.9 million in revenues. All of the Washoe markets reported declines in July.

South Lake Tahoe was also down, by 0.6 percent, but Lawton said the comparison for the market was tough this past July, with a 25 percent increase in July 2011 over July 2010. So the slight decline is actually a strong performance for the market, he said.

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