Gaming win drops sharply in January

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Carson City and Carson Valley continue to be bright spots in the state's otherwise gloomy gaming win.

The two communities have posted gaming revenue increases for 12 months in a row.

The Carson Valley area, which includes valley portions of Douglas County as well as the capital, was up 7.7 percent for the month to $7.3 million in winnings. This is the Carson Valley area's 12th consecutive month of increases.

Around the state, casinos suffered the largest one-month decline in January since the state began reporting monthly winnings.

Total win dropped $133.4 million -- a 14.83 percent decrease compared with January 2001.

Analysts said the economy and terrorism don't get the blame.

Most of the decrease can be attributed to the fact that this year both Chinese New Year and the Super Bowl occurred in February.

Gaming Control Board analyst Frank Streshley said both were in January last year, and "because of that we expected a big decline."

Chinese New Year is probably the top holiday for high rollers, especially in Las Vegas. And the Super Bowl draws a huge volume of gamblers to Nevada resorts.

Streshley said experts won't know whether there was a real decline in business until they see February numbers and prepare a two-month comparison with last year.

The numbers, however, clearly show the big players weren't in Nevada casinos during January. Baccarat winnings were down 44.8 percent from a year ago, blackjack was down 33.4 percent, craps was down 39.6 percent and roulette 31.9 percent.

Sports betting, with no Super Bowl during the month, was down 29.7 percent from January 2001.

Streshley said there were hopeful signs for Nevada's economy in January's numbers. Statewide slots winnings were up just under 1 percent. Although that's small, he said it's the first year-over-year increase since September.

"That's a very good sign," he said.

Another good indicator, he said, is the recovery of smaller markets outside the main Reno and Las Vegas areas.

Elko County casinos were up 4.8 percent to just over $17 million for the month. Even outlying areas in Clark County showed increases -- the Boulder Strip by 7.1 percent and Mesquite by 11.2 percent.

But the Las Vegas Strip was down 23.9 percent to $377.8 million in winnings for the month. Washoe County was down 8.85 percent to $70.2 million and South Lake Tahoe was off 19.4 percent to $19.6 million.

For Washoe County, it was the 10th consecutive month of decline. The only bright spot there was a 23.5 percent increase in winnings reported by North Lake Tahoe casinos. But Streshley pointed out that is simply the area recovering from a 21.2 percent decrease in business reported last January. In effect, the area was up only about 2 percent from where it should have been.

Everywhere, game and table revenues were down more sharply than slot revenues, which seem to be returning to normal play and win patterns.

Statewide, total win reported was $766.3 million, bringing the winnings statewide to $5.4 billion for the fiscal year so far -- 5.7 percent less than the same period last year.


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