Baccarat loss drags down August win
Gaming win fell 3.1 percent in August, but not because the state had a bad month.
The culprit was baccarat on the Las Vegas Strip, which just couldn’t keep up with the huge profits from that game in August 2002.
Baccarat play last year totaled more than $230 million, and casinos kept more than 30 percent of it. This August, total play was a much more normal $180 million — and the win percentage dropped back dramatically as well.
The result: a $41.2 million decrease in baccarat winnings compared to August 2002.
And that was the major factor in the 10.4 percent drop in total gaming win on the Las Vegas Strip for August. Gaming Control Board Analyst Frank Streshley said without baccarat, the state would have been up 2 percent for August.
In contrast, most other parts of the state did well in August.
The Carson Valley area, which includes the capital and the valley portions of Douglas County, turned in a 9.3 percent gain. August was the first full month of business for Casino Fandango, which has reportedly been busy since it opened near the end of July.
Total win reported in Carson Valley was $9.8 million.
South Lake Tahoe casinos were also up in August — by 9 percent. That is the Stateline area’s first increase in five months. Total win reported was $37 million.
North Lake Tahoe also turned in an increase, its first in a year. With the Crystal Bay Club reopened Aug. 1, win was up 4.7 percent at North Shore to $4.52 million.
Washoe County was still down 1.7 percent for August, but with Hot August Nights, the Reno-Tahoe Open and the Nugget Rib Cook Off, that was one of the area’s best months in the past year. Washoe’s gaming win has been down nine of the past 12 months. Casino operators say weekends are still strong, but they believe Indian casinos in California are reducing their midweek business because customers are more inclined to visit the casino next door rather than drive to Reno for one day’s stay.
Elko, too, saw gaming win increase in August — by 4.2 percent to $20.7 million.
For the state as a whole, win totaled $813.6 million. That amount is used to calculate gaming taxes which provide more than a third of the state general fund budget. Through September, gaming tax collections are actually 7.8 percent ahead of projections used to build the state’s budget.
Gov. Kenny Guinn emphasized it’s still to early to consider that a trend.
In part, that reflects the increase in gaming taxes that took effect in September. The 6.25 percent of gross win paid by the state’s largest casinos was increased by lawmakers to 6.75 percent to help pay for the expanding needs of government.