Nevada gambling revenue flat in November; Vegas Strip winnings down 4 percent year-over-year

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LAS VEGAS — With outlying casinos performing better than those on the Las Vegas Strip and more spending at slot machines than a year ago, it may seem like a strange month that left Nevada's gambling revenue virtually flat in November.

Some of those anomalies could come down to a technicality: when casinos actually collected the winnings from each machine.

Michael Lawton, senior research analyst with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said that because the end of November 2013 fell on a weekend, casinos often wait to count the winnings until December, lumping the amount with that month instead. That didn't happen this past November, leaving casinos and state statistics looking buoyed by a surge in slot-machine revenue.

Revenue was up less than one-tenth of 1 percent for $876 million, compared with the same month a year ago, according to the latest figures from the Gaming Control Board.

Las Vegas Strip gambling revenues of $508 million were down 4 percent year-over-year, while downtown revenue of $43 million was up 13 percent.

Areas off the Strip that cater to locals saw increases. North Las Vegas, which recorded $20.8 million in winnings, saw its revenues rise by 38 percent, and the Boulder Strip area's revenues went up 21 percent to $58 million in November.

Usually baccarat, the lucrative but highly volatile game preferred by high rollers, can be pointed to for the up or down swings in the Strip's performance.

Casino winnings on the game dropped less than 2 percent, though, indicating Strip casinos hadn't lost their big spenders, said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

What the Strip lost appeared to be money from nearly every kind of card game except Pai Gow and Let it Ride.

Casino winnings from sports books statewide were up 5.6 percent. The total amount bet on sports, $535.5 million, was a record, Lawton said.

Reno casino revenue was down less than 1 percent to $43 million, and South Lake Tahoe gambling revenues plunged 30 percent to $12 million in November.

The state collected $47 million in taxes based on the November winnings, which is down 5 percent from the same time last year.

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