Carson, Tahoe enjoy banner December in gaming win |

Carson, Tahoe enjoy banner December in gaming win

Both Carson-Douglas and South Lake Tahoe casinos finished 1999 in the chips, recording some of their most impressive win numbers in years.

The Carson Valley Area, which includes Carson City as well as the valley portions of Douglas County, raked in $7.3 million in winnings for December – 22.7 percent more than the same month of 1998.

Stateline casinos reported $26.7 million in winnings – a 16 percent increase.

Those numbers enabled the Carson Valley casinos to finish the calendar year with $88 million in winnings, an 8.7 percent increase. That is less than the 9.8 percent rise last year but well above the 5.5 percent average for the 1990s.

South Tahoe casinos finished the calendar year with $328 million in winnings, up 6.3 percent. Even that strong finish wasn’t enough to stop the area’s decade long slide in total win – down more than $20 million from the $352.3 million it won in 1989.

The only negative numbers in the area were reported by North Shore casinos where winnings fell in December by 12.9 percent. But even North Shore was up for the calendar year – 6 percent, to $41.9 million.

Despite a bad December, 1999 was North Shore’s best since 1992. And despite the same kinds of restrictions on any expansion faced by South Shore, Crystal Bay area casinos have grown over the decade from $35.4 million in 1989 total winnings to $41.9 million in 1999.

The source of the profit throughout the area was slot machines. In the Carson Valley area, slot winnings increased 25.2 percent in December while game and table winnings were up just 4.8 percent. The big difference wasn’t total amount of slot play but an unexplained increase in the percentage of coins played that the slots kept.

The “hold percentage” was also up at South Shore.

One category where play did increase substantially was Megabucks, where the jackpot was again more than $25 million in December. A Las Vegas cocktail waitress hit it for more than $34 million.

But interest in Megabucks increased play more than 6,000 percent at the Lake and about 250 percent in Carson City.

Other high points for slot play are increases of more than 30 percent in nickel machine play. New and sophisticated multi-coin, progressive nickel machines have become the favorites of many players.