A dealer gathers up chips after a hand of Texas Hold ‘em at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 2013.

Baccarat decline cuts into Nevada casino winnings

LAS VEGAS — A drop in the number of people playing the table game baccarat and a comparatively busy January a year ago contributed to a 2.9 percent decrease in Nevada casino winnings last month, according to regulatory data made public Friday.

Overall, the house won just over $925 million last month, down from almost $953 million in the first month of 2015, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

But the state benefited, collecting almost $82 million in percentage fees in February based on the monthly “gaming win” total. That was up about 19.6 percent from February 2015.

“We were facing (a) pretty difficult comparison,” said Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the regulatory board.

“Volumes were down because of a stronger event calendar last January than this January.”

Lawton noted that Las Vegas hosted two UFC events and a boxing championship in the first month of 2015, and benefited from pre-game betting ahead of the Super Bowl football championship, held Feb. 1.

This year, the city hosted one UFC event and the Super Bowl was Feb. 7.

Downtown Las Vegas and the Lake Tahoe area had a good month in January compared with the Las Vegas Strip, which reported a 7.7 percent drop in casino gambling revenue.

North Las Vegas, Laughlin and most of Elko County also came out ahead in casino winnings, according to the report.

Some $2.5 billion was bet on table games including blackjack, poker, roulette and craps, down about $415 million, or 14.4 percent.

Lawton said the $346 million casino win on table games statewide in January represented a decrease of 11.6 percent from a year earlier, and reflected an overall downward trend.

Lawton said almost 80 percent of the $45.4 million decrease was attributable to a drop in baccarat volume.

Slot machine volume was $8.6 billion, down 3 percent in January from a year earlier.

But casinos won $579.3 million from slot operations, up 3.2 percent.

The report said that for the first seven months of the current fiscal year, casino winnings are up a fraction of 1 percent.

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