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Nevada gambling revenue plunges 13.7 percent February; Strip casino winnings down 20.1 percent

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CARSON CITY, Nevada — Nevada's gambling revenue in February plunged 13.7 percent, a decline blamed on a huge drop in baccarat winnings and a tough comparison from a year earlier when the Las Vegas Strip recorded its highest win total ever, state regulators reported Friday.

Casinos statewide reported a win of $926.1 million in February, down from nearly $1.1 billion raked in during the same month the year before.

The tumble on the Strip, home to Nevada's posh resorts, was even more dramatic. Casinos there reported gambling revenue of $555.7 million, down 20.1 percent compared with $696.1 million won in February 2013, the state Gaming Control Board said.

Elsewhere in the state, clubs in downtown Las Vegas posted a 3 percent gain in gambling revenues to $43 million, while Reno casino revenue inched up nearly 1 percent to $44 million. At South Lake Tahoe, casino winnings fell 9.5 percent to $14.7 million.

February's report for the first time broke out revenue from online poker. Nevada has three companies licensed to offer Internet poker to players physically present in the state. Online poker brought in $824,000, representing 8.9 percent of the $9.3 million total card-game revenue. Since its inception in Nevada 10 months ago, online poker has generated $8.5 million in gambling revenue.

Mike Lawton, senior analyst at the control board, said that despite the overall statewide revenue drop, February was still a good month for Nevada's casinos. Comparing this February to last is difficult because of the record win a year ago, he said.

Chinese New Year benefited February results in both years. The holiday tends to draw an influx of Asian players, who favor the high-roller game of baccarat.

The $158.4 million generated by baccarat in February was down 40 percent or $105.4 million from the year before, when casinos won a record $263.8 million. The volume or amount wagered this February was $1.3 billion, down $305 million or 19.1 percent from last year's betting of $1.6 billion.

With that kind of money being wagered on baccarat, a record $19.7 million won by sports books on Super Bowl bets couldn't make up for the overall decline. Those winnings amounted to a scant 2 percent of overall gambling revenue.

The "win" is the amount left in casino coffers after gamblers bet $11.5 billion. Of that, $3 billion was wagered on card and table games while $8.5 billion was plunked into slot and video machines.

Based on the February gambling revenue, Nevada collected $58.9 million in taxes, down 4.6 percent from the same time a year ago.

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