Gaming numbers down in Stateline, up in state |

Gaming numbers down in Stateline, up in state

by Sally J. Taylor and Brendan Riley, Associated Press Writer

The Stateline industry built on luck seems stuck on a losing streak.

While the rest of Nevada casinos bounced back in March from a bad February, clubs on the South Shore earned $23.2 million, down 4.5 percent compared to March a year ago.

According to figures released Tuesday by Gaming Control Board spokesman Russell Guindon, winnings at the tables had the largest drop, 19.1 percent. Winnings on slots, which pay out at a set rate, actually increased by 6.7 percent compared to March 1997 figures.

Because the activity level at the Stateline casinos dropped only 1 percent, the decline in winnings suggests players took home more.

“It’s a matter of who does best? The industry or the players,” Guindon said.

Putting a positive spin on the numbers, Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance Executive Director Steve Teshara suggested the decrease in the casinos’ take is a good reason for visitors to come to Tahoe.

“People should stampede the market place,” Teshara said. “Tahoe’s the place to go to win (before the streak runs out).”

Teshara attributed the drop to the weather at the end of March.

The last upswing for the South Shore was in January when casino winnings were up 11.7 percent.

Throughout Nevada, casinos won $673.1 million from gamblers in March, a 6.8 percent gain over March, 1997.

”It was a very good month for the state and for several of the markets,” Guindon said, adding that a strong win by slot machines was the big factor throughout the state during March.

Slots accounted for $475 million of the total – 10.4 percent more than what the machines won in March 1997. Table games, on the other hand, were down 0.8 percent, winning $193 million.

Poker accounted for the $5.1 million balance of the statewide win by the clubs, down 7.4 percent.

The state collected $56.4 million in percentage fees based upon the March casino win, a 14 percent jump which brought the average for the fiscal year to date to 3.6 percent.

Guindon said the increase is welcome, but it’s not enough, with only two months left in the fiscal year, to hit Nevada’s 6.8 percent growth estimate for the entire 12-month period. Lawmakers based the state budget income from gambling at that level.

Casino-related taxes account for about 35 percent of Nevada’s budget.

On an area-by-area basis:

— In the south, resorts on the Las Vegas Strip accounted for $294 million, up 4.9 percent; downtown Las Vegas casinos won $64.2 million for a 4.3 percent gain. Laughlin clubs won $46 million for a flat month. North Las Vegas casinos won $18.3 million, up 29.3 percent. Boulder Strip clubs won $49.4 million, up 47.4 percent.

— Casinos in the Reno-Sparks-North Tahoe area won $87.3 million, up 1.7 percent. A breakdown shows Reno up 2.8 percent, Sparks down 3.8 percent and North Tahoe up 12.2 percent.

— Elsewhere in the north, clubs in Elko County won $18 million, down 4.8 percent; casinos in Carson City-Gardnerville-Minden won $6.4 million, up 8.5 percent; Churchill County casinos won $1.3 million, up 18.8 percent; Humboldt County clubs won $1.5 million, up 6.4 percent; and White Pine County casinos won $365,000, up 9.9 percent.

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