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Nevada gambling revenue up 15 percent in February

Sandra Chereb, Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) -- Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip had their most profitable month in history in February, and gambling revenue was up 15 percent statewide thanks to the Chinese New Year and heavy baccarat play, state regulators reported Wednesday.

Casinos statewide won nearly $1.1 billion in February, up $141 million from February 2012 and representing the largest statewide win since December 2007, said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the Gaming Control Board. Clark County casino revenue of $956 million was up nearly 18 percent.

Resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, Nevada's tourism and gambling mecca, had a record month with winnings of $696.1 million. That's an increase of 31 percent, or $165.4 million, from a year ago.

"It's the highest win amount ever recorded for the Las Vegas Strip," Lawton said.

Baccarat is a high-roller game favored by Asian players, and the Chinese New Year falling in February this year was largely responsible for the big gains.

Baccarat winnings amounted to a record $263.9 million, an increase of 131.4 percent, or $150 million, Lawton said. Without baccarat, the overall statewide win would have been down 1.1 percent from the previous year.

The "win" is what was left in casino coffers after bettors wagered $12 billion. A breakdown shows $3.4 billion was wagered on card and table games like baccarat, and another $8.6 billion was pumped into slot and video poker machines.

February also marked a big month for sports books because the Super Bowl occurred during the month and featured heavy action between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. Sports books won $14.2 million, up 24 percent from the previous year. On football wagers, the win amount was $2.2 million, up 38 percent.

Elsewhere around the state, casinos in downtown Las Vegas saw their numbers drop almost 8 percent in February.

Washoe County gambling revenue of almost $60 million was down a little more than 1 percent, while South Lake Tahoe numbers were up almost 8 percent.

For the fiscal year that began July 1, statewide winnings are up 2.3 percent.

Nevada collected nearly $62 million in taxes based on the February casino winnings. That's down 12 percent from a year earlier.

Win totals and tax collections don't always correlate because while casinos record winnings that were made on credit pay, they don't pay taxes on those amounts until patrons actually pay up. Almost all baccarat betting is done on credit.