Nevada casinos won 5.1 percent more in March than they did the same month a year earlier.
The difference was largely attributable to increases in what gamblers lost on table games. Baccarat was up 55 percent to a total of $82.3 million statewide. But twenty-one, craps and roulette also grew by double digit percentages in March.
Total games win for the month was up 20.5 percent to more than $325 million. Even with baccarat deducted from the total, games win would have been up 12.1 percent.
Gaming Control Board analyst Mike Lawton said this is the first time since July 2007 that games win would have been up without counting baccarat. He said that's a very good sign that the market is recovering.
"We're headed in the right direction," he said. "It's just slow."
The Las Vegas Strip logged a 12.89 percent increase for the month to $527.3 million.
The flagship game for the average player, twenty-one, Lawton said recorded its highest total win since October of 2008 - $106.2 million.
He attributed the healthy showing to a variety of attractions during March including the Miguel Cotto/Ricardo Mayorga fight and the ConExpo-Con/Agg convention - a major construction trades show - which drew 118,000 visitors to Las Vegas. In addition, he said Celine Dion played eight shows during the month.
By comparison, slot win was actually down for the month, although by just 1.3 percent. Total slot win was $621.7 million. Lawton said coin-in to those machines was $9.3 billion, some $50.6 million less than a year ago.
Western Nevada gamblers didn't enjoy the same success in March, in part because they were up against tough comparisons from March 2010.
The Carson Valley area, which includes Douglas County outside of Lake Tahoe, was up just a bit - less than a percent - to $8.6 million total win. The area was up 2.6 percent a year ago.
South Shore casinos at Lake Tahoe suffered a bad month with win falling 29.8 percent to $14.8 million. For the fiscal year to date, win in that market is off by 9.4 percent because of the competition from Indian casinos between Tahoe and its primary markets - Sacramento and the Bay Area. But for March, the Stateline casinos also faced a tough comparison since March of last year was up more than 7 percent over the previous March. Lawton said this year, "the play just wasn't there."
In Washoe and Reno, he said coin-in and games drop were "way down," 7.1 percent less than a year ago to $61.1 million. That compares to a March 2010 when the county was up 1.6 percent. The one bright spot there, Lawton said, was that Sparks had its first increase in total win since October 2007.
North Lake Tahoe saw gaming win dip 14.7 percent to $1.68 million. Game and table win fell nearly 41 percent but Lawton said he didn't have a clear explanation for what happened there.
Churchill County casinos reported an increase of 5.24 percent in total win, bringing in $1,929,000. The increase comes despite a 32.8 percent decrease in game and table win. However, all but $50,000 of Churchill's win comes from slot play at the county's 10 reporting locations.