Pushed by huge increases in nickel slot play, casino gaming win increased nearly 12 percent in March.
Nickel machine winnings rose 63 percent at Stateline in March, accounting for nearly half that area's $2.1 million increase over a year ago. At North Lake Tahoe, the nickel slots increased 20 percent, producing $63,000 of the $113,000 increase in winnings. In the Carson Valley, a 22 percent increase accounted for $245,000 of the $562,000 increase.
The win has had a double-digit increase all three months of this calendar year, beginning with record profits as casinos, particularly in Las Vegas, welcomed the new millennium.
But the March numbers were unique because, although game and table winnings led the way with a 15.9 percent improvement over March 1999 compared to a 10.1 percent increase in slot revenue, the total $555.7 million win on slots was a new monthly record.
And a good share of that increase can be attributed to the growth in popularity of the new, sophisticated nickel machines.
Gaming Control Board Analyst Frank Streshley said nickel slot winnings increased 37.1 percent for the month and accounted for $34.2 million of the total $89 million increase in winnings over last year.
He attributed the growth to casino operators who are putting more and more of the nickel machines on the casino floors to accommodate the demand from customers.
"Every month, nickel machines are leading the way, pushing the numbers," he said.
And that's true everywhere in the state, according to Streshley.
The new machines offer players more ways of betting, higher progressive jackpots and allow players to bet anything from a single nickel to several dollars on each handle pull.
Streshley said the new nickel slots have proven a huge success with players and turned out large increases every month for most of a year.
Overall, the March win as reported by the state's casinos was $836.5 million, 11.9 percent more than March 1999. That is a fraction below the fiscal year to date which is 12.04 percent.
The Las Vegas Strip led the way with 17.1 percent to a total of $414 million.
The Carson Valley area, which includes Carson City and the valley portions of Douglas County, showed with a 3.52 percent increase to $7.2 million. Stateline enjoyed a rare positive month with 8.52 percent higher win numbers - $26.85 million. But the county is still down four-tenths of a percent for the fiscal year.
North Lake Tahoe increased its winnings 3.71 percent to $3.16 million. Washoe County casinos won 9.23 percent more than a year ago - $94 million.
Streshley said it is the 25th consecutive month the state's gaming win has increased, fueled in large part by the four new major properties on the Las Vegas Strip - the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, the Venetian and Paris Las Vegas.
Table games also showed strong increases across the state, with both 21 and craps in double-digits and baccarat with a 21.9 percent improvement.