North Tahoe only major NV market down in gaming win in 2015 | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe only major NV market down in gaming win in 2015

Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

CARSON CITY, Nev. — In May, Nevada casinos posted their first billion dollar month since December 2013.

Gaming Control Board Analyst Mike Lawton said the 3.3 percent gain over a year ago was a solid gain considering last May was 8.2 percent higher than the year before that.

And he said it wasn't Baccarat that drove the increase but everything else. Baccarat, in fact, was down 36 percent to $109.8 million for the month.

Without Baccarat, Lawton said statewide win would have been up 11.9 percent or $95 million instead of just 3.3 percent.

Slots raked in $601.4 million, a gain of 8 percent. Slot win has been up four consecutive months now. Table Games were up 9.9 percent without Baccarat.

"Non-Baccarat business was strong both in slots and the tables," said Lawton.

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He said that's a good sign because it indicates more regular players are returning to Nevada's casinos, which is reducing the state's reliance on the high-rollers and help stabilize the market.

Huge crowds and high rollers in Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight helped, analysts say.

"To hit a billion, we're pretty pleased," Lawton said.

Slot machines and tables were packed on fight night, May 2, and casinos responded by raising limits to accommodate big spenders.

It was the start of a busy month that included the new Rock in Rio outdoor music festival, the World Series of Poker and Memorial Day weekend.

The last time casino winnings topped $1 billion was December 2013.

The fight also helped boost sports betting. "Other" bets that include boxing but not football, basketball, baseball and horse racing, hit a record total of $81.2 million wagered and $8.2 million won by casinos.

The long-awaited matchup also helped produce a surge at McCarran International Airport, which reported nearly 4 million passengers last month, the most for May since the recession.

And the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said 3.7 million travelers came to town, an all-time monthly record.

"It shows," said Brent Pirosch, a gambling industry analyst for commercial real estate company CBRE, "that if you get people excited, they will show up."

The Carson Valley Area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County, did even better, reporting a gain of 7.7 percent to $9.26 million in May. That's the sixth consecutive increase for the area, driven by a $661,000 increase in slot win.

The numbers were boosted by the reopening of Sharkey's Casino in Douglas County.

South Shore casinos at Lake Tahoe suffered a 6.76 percent decrease to $16.2 million in May, but Lawton said those casinos were up against a tough comparison.

May of 2014 was up more than 18 percent at the lake. Despite what happened in May, South Shore was up 5 percent for the calendar year.

North Shore also suffered a decrease of just under 4 percent to $1.76 million. That neatly erased the 1.8 percent increase reported in May 2014. Slot win and table game win were both down despite solid increases in the volume of play.

The problem was the percentage the casinos held. Lawton said North Shore casinos actually lost $78,000 on the sports pool, which he said was likely because of betting on the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight.

For the calendar year, North Shore is the only major market in the state that's down compared to last year.

Churchill County reported a 2.67 percent decrease in total win. Both slots and games were down, games by 11.6 percent to just $59,000. Slot win fell 2.3 percent.

Total win for the month was $1.71 million.

Overall, the state is up 2.3 percent after five months of the year.

Total gaming percentage collections finished the fiscal year at $694.7 million, up 2 percent over the previous fiscal year. That's 1.6 percent or $11 million more than the Economic Forum forecast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.