U.S. Markets open in 2 hrs 46 mins

Casino stocks up on higher Nevada gaming revenue

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of casino companies rose Friday on news of a jump in Nevada gambling revenue and optimism about the possibility of legalized online gambling in New Jersey.

Nevada gambling regulators said casinos in their state took in a little over 10 percent more in gambling revenues during December than they did in the same month the year before.

Casinos won about $943 million during the month, resulting in $39 in taxes for the state, according to the Nevada Gambling Control Board.

Nevada gambling trends have been improving after the recession hurt spending at casinos. Still, the state's casino wins in 2012 of $10.8 billion remain 15.5 percent below the peak of $12.8 billion collected in 2007.

Also on Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the third state to legalize gambling over the Internet, but he said he would sign it if it had a 10-year trial period and a higher tax rate on casinos. The path Christie laid out for such a bill to pass made supporters of online gambling optimistic.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., which operates casinos in both Nevada and New Jersey, posted some of the sector's biggest gains, rising $3.30, or 33 percent, to $13.37 in afternoon trading. Shares have gained about 60 percent in the past two days.

Elsewhere in the sector, shares of MGM Resorts International rose 61 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $13.55; Las Vegas Sands Corp. rose 87 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $54.42; Boyd Gaming Corp. added 66 cents, or 9.3 percent, to $7.76; and Penn National Gaming Inc. rose 23 cents to $52.39.