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Stateline posts yearly win

Stateline casino winnings ended a four-year losing streak in 1998, finishing the calendar year up 4.8 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

“That’s good news,” said board spokesman Russell Guindon. “It’s the first calendar-year increase in total wins for the South Shore market in four years.”

The calendar year in 1997 ended with a 7.1 percent decrease compared to 1996.



The increase for 1998 also bucks the Stateline gaming trend throughout the 1990s, which has averaged a 1.5 percent decline.

The month of December also showed a healthy increase in winnings, the amount kept by the casinos after player winnings are paid. At $24.1 million, the month was up 3.17 percent.




“For South Lake Tahoe it’s not a real strong month, but it is up a little, especially vs. the decline of 26 percent last year,” Guindon said, referring to the performance in December 1997.

Games and table games, such as blackjack, craps and roulette, pushed the numbers upward. Activity increased by 3.5 percent with winnings up 32.2 percent. Impressive increases were seen in roulette with a 122 percent rise and baccarat was up 338 percent. Though exceptionally high, baccarat tends to fluctuate widely so the number is not unprecedented, Guindon said.

The increase in games and table games implies that the casinos held onto significantly more than they did a year ago, he said.

Despite overall increases for the year, slot activity decreased by 5.5 percent, leaving slot winnings down 17.4 percent.

Statewide, Nevada casinos won a record $8.06 billion from players in 1998 – a 3.4 percent gain over 1997.

While the statewide win, it’s not as good as the 5 percent increase in 1997 over 1996.

Baccarat players, who had more luck in Las Vegas than Stateline, left casinos statewide with nearly 20 percent less money in 1998 than they raked in a year earlier. Blackjack was down 2 percent.

As a result, Guindon said, the entire table game category was off 3.9 percent for the year. The clubs wound up with an overall gain because the statewide slot win was up 3.4 percent.

Slots accounted for nearly $5.3 billion of the total win for the casinos, while table games took in $2.74 billion.

The report also shows tax collections based on the statewide win are up 8.8 percent since last summer, above earlier projections that figured in Gov. Kenny Guinn’s recent budget-cutting decisions.

Guindon said the tax take could run at a negative 2.6 percent for the rest of the fiscal year and it would still hit the state Economic Forum’s estimate a few months ago of $475 million by the end of June.

More likely, with the opening of two megaresorts on the Strip in March and April – Mandalay Bay and the Venetian – the revenues will go higher and the need to follow through with at least some of Guinn’s proposed budget cuts will ease.

About 35 percent of Nevada’s budget is funded by casino taxes.

Associated Press writer Brendan Riley contributed to this story.

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