Many Nevada casinos are struggling, but the Las Vegas Strip keeps ringing


Guests play slot machines at a casino in Las Vegas in 2012. Casinos along the Las Vegas strip are doing well, but those in downtown Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada are lagging. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News via Getty Images)

Gambling revenue has fallen from last year in several cities across Nevada, but a $25 million increase from the Las Vegas Strip and a particularly lucrative card game is buoying the statewide figure.

“The Strip has had five consecutive monthly increases,” Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, told The Post. “It’s being driven by baccarat.”

Baccarat, a card game popular with high-end international visitors that’s played on the Strip but not available in most other parts of the state, has brought in $1.7 billion in revenue in the past twelve months. With it, statewide revenue from January to July has increase by 1.4 percent, but take it out of the equation, and revenue goes down 0.4 percent, Lawton said.

In July, statewide gambling revenue totaled more than $931 million, up less than 1 percent from the same time period last year, according to figures released Thursday from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. The Strip, which accounted for 57 percent of all Nevada’s gambling revenue in July, was up 4.8 percent. Revenue in Sparks, Mesquite and North Lake Tahoe also increased.

But revenue was down when compared with last year in Reno, Laughlin, downtown Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, and the Boulder Strip, which includes casinos off the Boulder Highway in Las Vegas and casinos in Henderson, places not usually associated with big spending international gamblers.

Earlier this month, Moody’s released a study that found that since the recession, Las Vegas has been able to recover, whereas the East Coast’s major destination gambling city, Atlantic City, has not, due to Las Vegas’s status as an international and not just regional destination, it’s revenue streams from sources other than gambling, and geography. Despite being the only New Jersey where gambling is legal, Atlantic City has suffered from the growing number of casinos in the mid-Atlantic region that have siphoned off regional visitors.

Hunter Schwarz covers state and local politics and policy across the country for the Washington Post.
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Hunter Schwarz · August 28