Snow and slots equal great January for Stateline |

Snow and slots equal great January for Stateline

Sally J. Taylor, Tribune Staff Writer and Brendan Riley, Associated Press Writer

The January gaming revenue story for Stateline casinos is “short and sweet,” according to Nevada Gaming Control Board spokesman Russell Guindon.

In a report released Wednesday, Stateline casino winnings – the amount kept by the casinos after payouts – was $25.88 million for the first month of the year, an increase of 17.78 percent over January 1998.

Both categories of slots as well as games and table games posted strong revenue increases of 14.3 percent and 21.3 percent, respectively.

“The good thing about this month is that activity was very strong (as well as winnings),” Guindon said.

Slot activity increased by 13.9 percent. The games and table games category, which includes blackjack, craps and roulette, increased by 11.6 percent.

Guindon noted that the South Shore market tends to have the widest fluctuations in the state because of the impact winter weather has on visitor counts. This percentage increase in this year’s number is probably due to poor weather and low numbers in January 1998.

Statewide, Nevada casinos held $807.2 million from gamblers for a 16.6 percent gain over the same month a year earlier.

That’s the first time clubs went over $800 million in any month since the Gaming Control Board started compiling monthly win reports in 1983, Guindon said.

Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, helped by a Mike Tyson fight on Jan. 16, won $432.5 million – their biggest month ever.

But Guindon cautioned that bets on the Jan. 31 Super Bowl were recorded as win for the month, and most payouts to lucky bettors won’t show until the February report. If football is left out, the 16.6 percent gain in statewide win is about 5 percent lower – but still in healthy double digits.

A statewide breakdown of games that produced the most revenue in January shows the clubs won $120 million on blackjack; $45.1 million on craps; and $54.7 million from baccarat.

Dollar slots won $120.8 million; quarter slots won $197 million; and nickel slots won $80.6 million.

For the state’s coffers, the month’s win for casinos meant $51.6 million in percentage fee taxes – a huge 26.2 percent gain.

For the fiscal year to date, the state’s tax take is averaging 11.3 percent – far above the earlier state Economic Forum estimates that figured in Gov. Kenny Guinn’s budget-slashing proposals.

Guinn figured on a $140 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year – but the latest Control Board report and a recent Taxation Department report on sales taxes indicate a much lower shortfall figure.

Sales are now coming in at a fiscal-year average of 8.6 percent. If that continues, the shortfall shrinks by more than $10 million.

Casino-related revenues and sales taxes account for three-quarters of all revenues needed to run state government.

Senate Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also has cautioned that those seeking more money shouldn’t get their hopes up too high.

He said there are concerns about projected savings of about $14 million in the state prison system’s budget, and about the cost of curing financial problems of the state employee health plan.

In a breakdown of the January report from casinos:

n The Las Vegas Strip’s $432.5 million win was up 21.7 percent compared with January 1998. But downtown Las Vegas winnings of $63 million were down 0.8 percent – the only major area to show a negative month.

n The Boulder Strip showed a 23.4 percent January-to-January gain in win and north Las Vegas had a 27.4 percent jump.

n The Reno-Sparks area in northern Nevada had January winnings of $78.8 million, up 13 percent.

A breakdown shows $59.3 million won by clubs in Reno, up 12.7 percent; $12.4 million won by casinos in Sparks, up 19.6 percent; and $3.2 million won by resorts on Tahoe’s north shore, up 7.4 percent.

n Elko County winnings of $17.6 million were up 8.9 percent in January.

n The Minden-Carson City casino win of $6.7 million was up 21.9 percent.

n In other northern Nevada areas, casinos in Churchill County won $1.2 million, up 24 percent; clubs in Humboldt County won $1.2 million, barely up at 0.3 percent; and casinos in White Pine County won $343,000, up 5.9 percent.

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