CARSON CITY — March was an unlucky month for Nevada casinos, when gamblers beat the house more than normal and casino revenues fell 10.9 percent from the same month last year, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Thursday.
Casinos won $854.6 million in March, on which the state collected $71.5 million in taxes, a 10.3 percent decline.
But regulators noted a large convention in Las Vegas last year helped boost revenue in March 2011, exaggerating the decline in the recent report.
The ConExpo convention drew 140,000 attendees and statewide casino revenues totaled $958.7 million in March 2011, up 5.1 percent from the previous year. On the Strip, revenues in March 2011 soared12.9 percent.
Baccarat, a high roller game favored by Asian players, also weighed on the March results. The baccarat win totaled $38.8 million, down 51.6 percent or $42.5 million from the same month a year before. The $496 million wagered on baccarat was down $216.4 million from March 2011, and gamblers won a higher percentage than average, said Michael Lawton, senior analyst with the Gaming Control Board.
Winnings on the Las Vegas Strip totaled $448.6 million in March, down 14.9 percent year-over-year. Downtown Las Vegas saw an 11.9 percent decrease and brought in $43 million.
Reno’s numbers were flat in March, when casinos brought in $44 million, less than half a percentage point up from last year.
South Lake Tahoe’s revenue totaled $12.7 million, down 14 percent.
The “win” is what was left in casino coffers after gamblers wagered $12.1 billion playing cards, table games and slot machines. A breakdown shows the $2.6 billion gamblers bet on card and table games was down 4.6 percent or $122 million from March 2011; while the $9.6 billion pumped into slots was up $234.4 million, or 2.5 percent.
The March decline came on the heels of five straight months of positive growth.
For the fiscal year that began July 1, combined casino revenue is up 2.2 percent.
“As long as you see volume going in the right direction, you have to feel good about it,” Lawton said.
Bill Lerner with Union Gaming agreed.
“We view today’s March results as mixed,” Lerner wrote in a note to clients. “While high-end play was clearly weak after adjusting for hold, the ‘mass market’ volume was better.”
He added the upcoming events calendar in Las Vegas “is fairly robust and should drive demand in the coming months.”