Carson Valley area casino wins down 21 percent |

Carson Valley area casino wins down 21 percent

Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Nevada casinos won $883.3 million from gamblers in January, a 3.2 percent drop from the same month a year ago, but the decline was smaller than anticipated, the state Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday.

In 2009, Chinese New Year and the Friday and Saturday preceding the Super Bowl – events that generally bring a spike in tourists and gamblers – were in January. This year, both occurred in February.

“Going into the month, we were expecting a bigger decline,” said Frank Streshley, chief of licensing and taxes and for the control board. Compared with January 2009, a “very soft month” when casino winnings fell 14.2 percent from 2008, the latest results were welcome, he said.

Based on the January win, the state in collected almost $60 million in casino taxes in February, the report said. The 27 percent increase in tax collections was attributed in part to casino collections on credit markers.

For the eight months of the fiscal year that began July 1, tax collections are down 1.6 percent.

The January report follows a dismal 2009 for the state’s largest industry. The $10.4 billion won from gamblers last year was down 10.4 percent, and marked the largest calendar year drop in state history.

Taxes paid by casinos make up about a third of the state’s general fund. The industry has been especially hard hit in the recession gamblers keep a tighter hold on discretionary spending.

The $883.3 million is what casinos won after gamblers wagered $11.2 billion on slot machines and card games. A breakdown shows the $8.6 billion wagered on slots was down nearly 10 percent, while the $2.6 billion gambled on card games was down 2.2 percent.

Casino revenue fell 6.4 percent in Elko County and nearly 21 percent in the Carson Valley area, which includes Carson City and portions of Douglas County.

The $18.3 million won by casinos on the south shore of Lake Tahoe was down nearly 10 percent from January 2009, when revenue plunged 23.7 percent from the prior year.

“That market continues to be heavily impacted by the economy and increased competition from tribal casinos in California,” Streshley said.

On the Las Vegas Strip, which accounts for about half of all state casino revenues, clubs won $495 million, down 3 percent from the $510.3 million reported last year. It’s the first decline after two months of increases, Streshley said. Casinos in downtown Las Vegas reported $38.2 million in revenue, down 2.1 percent.

In northern Nevada’s Washoe County, an area that includes Reno and Sparks, casino wins totaled $60.2 million, down 8.7 percent. That marked the region’s 31st straight month of declines.