Nev. gambling revenue up 7 percent from March 2012

Sandra Chereb, Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Nevada casinos won $914.8 million in March, posting a 7 percent increase from the same month a year ago with much of the gains attributable to the high-roller game of baccarat, the state Gaming Control Board reported Friday.

The March winnings pushed the fiscal year-to-date total to nearly $8.4 billion, 2.8 percent more than last year.

Taxes collected on the March win totaled $78.3 million, an increase of 9.6 percent.

The Las Vegas Strip posted a 13.1 percent monthly gain over March a year ago and is now 5.7 percent ahead of 2012. Washoe County was up 9.5 percent for March, including a 10.8 percent gain in Reno.

It was the first increase in casino win for Washoe County since September and correlates with a USBC Bowling Tournament that began in March, said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board.

North Lake Tahoe was up 15.4 percent, South Tahoe down 11 percent, Carson Valley down 2 percent, Wendover up 7.6 percent and the rest of Elko County up 8.9 percent.

The "win" is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $12.1 billion. A breakdown indicates $9.5 billion was plucked into slot and video machines, while $2.6 billion was bet on card and table games.

Once again baccarat helped fuel the increases. Baccarat is a volatile game where gamblers are dealt two cards and predict whether they will beat the banker, typically a position that rotates among players at the table. At high end resorts, baccarat games held in posh, secluded gambling salons can start out a minimum of $10,000 per hand.

In March, baccarat saw action of $712.2 million, an increase of $216.5 million or 43.6 percent from March 2012. Casino's won $74.8 million, up 88 percent of $35 million from the same month last year.

Without baccarat, the total statewide win in March would be reduced to gain of 3.1 percent, Lawton said. For the fiscal year, total win is flat, up 0.3 percent if baccarat is factored out.

Of the $60 million in month-over-month gains in the statewide win, more than half — $35 million — came from baccarat.

The ratio is even greater on the Las Vegas Strip, where $36.9 million of the $58.9 million increase in March is attributed to baccarat, Lawton said.