Winnings were up 3.6 percent on the Strip, with casinos pulling in $518 million in gambling revenue, according to the monthly report issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Tax collections of $31.8 million collected on the December statewide total were up nearly 6 percent.
For the calendar year, casinos statewide had $10.7 billion in gambling revenue, up 2.8 percent over 2010 and marking the biggest yearly increase since 2007, the control board said. Additionally, while slot volume last year was flat, posting a scant increase of 0.4 percent, the bump was the first positive tick since 2006.
A notable difference in the December report compared with months past is that baccarat winnings of $150.5 million dropped 4.5 percent, or $7.2 million, but the statewide total casino win was still positive, up $17.2 million, said Michael Lawton, senior analyst with the control board.
The last time the state had a gain when baccarat fell was in September 2007.
Baccarat is a volatile game favored by Asian players. While the $1.4 billion bet on the game in December was up $3.7 million, gamblers were luckier this year and casinos raked in a smaller percentage of the wagers.
Without baccarat, the state win total was up 3.6 percent of $24.3 million.
The “win” is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers in December wagered $12.5 billion. The $9.3 billion plunked into slot and video poker machines was up nearly 3 percent, or $265 million, while $3.2 billion bet on table games was up 2.1 percent, or $64.4 million, Lawton said.
Winnings from slots totaled $480.9 million, up 1.4 percent or $6.6 million.
Slot play is considered a broader indicator of the financial health of Nevada’s gambling economy. While resorts on the Las Vegas Strip saw gains, that wasn’t the case in outlying, so-called “locals” markets.
Downtown Las Vegas clubs saw winnings in December drop 10.7 percent from the same month in 2010. Revenues fell 11.3 percent in North Las Vegas; 8.3 percent in Laughlin; and 7.4 percent along the Boulder Strip.
In northern Nevada, casinos in Reno saw revenues rise 11.8 percent, to $41.7 million from $37.2 million, the report said. Lawton said part of the gain can be attributed to the unseasonably mild December weather that was in stark contrast to a year ago.
“That helped them out in a positive way in December,” Lawton said. “A lot of people came over the hill for New Year’s.”
Elsewhere, gambling revenue rose 12 percent in Elko County; 6 percent at South Lake Tahoe; and 4.9 percent in the Carson Valley area.