February win third-best ever for casinos | NevadaAppeal.com
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February win third-best ever for casinos

After lagging well behind projections this fiscal year, gaming numbers surged in February as casinos reported the third highest win in state history.

Total win increased 15.86 percent over the same month last year to $875.9 million as every reporting area in the state except South Shore and the rural portions of Washoe County showed increases.

Gaming Control Board Analyst Frank Streshley said it was the strongest percentage growth since November 1999. He credited extended play from Chinese New year, the fact the SuperBowl was held in February this year and leap year which, this year, added an extra Sunday to the month.

The improvement was even more dramatic in percentage fee tax collections which increased 56.5 percent and caught the state up to projections by the Economic Forum for the first time this fiscal year. Tax collections rose $27.1 million over the previous March to a total of $75 million.

That brings total tax collections to $485.3 million – some 3.7 percent above the $467.8 million forecast at this point in the fiscal year.

Collection reports are always one month more current than win reports.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the increase will provide a much needed cushion for the remaining three months of this fiscal year. But with sales tax collections running well above projections, the February gaming numbers went a long way toward easing concerns about any impending budget shortage.

Game and table play was up nearly 20 percent statewide – credited both to Chinese New Year and the SuperBowl. Slot win was up 13.6 percent.

The Las Vegas Strip was up 19.5 percent overall with both games and slots showing nearly equal improvement.

Even Washoe County, which has had too many poor months in recent years, had an 8.1 percent increase to $80.8 million total win. That is a record February for Washoe and only the second month of increases since the opening of the Thunder Valley casino in Auburn. Good weather and a strong President’s Day weekend also helped Washoe County.

Carson City, which includes valley portions of Douglas County, reported $8.6 million in winnings – up 11.7 percent over a year ago and the 10th straight increase.

North Lake Tahoe casinos led the state in percentage increase – 39.2 percent. But that has to be compared with the area’s 15.6 percent drop last February. The difference is that the Crystal Bay Club was closed a year ago but has since reopened. Total win at North Shore was $3.26 million.

South Shore was one of the only negative reporting areas for February – a 2.1 percent drop to $25.6 million. Analysts had no easy explanation for the decline.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or at 687-8750.