Tourism authorities say Las Vegas welcomed a record number of gamblers, clubbers and conventioners in 2012.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said 39.7 million visitors toured the city last year. That’s 800,000 more guests than 2011, and a half-million more than the previous high, set in 2007.

The visitors authority calculated that the flood of tourists brought $40 billion into the local economy. The authority highlighted the resurgent convention industry as one of the factors driving the surge in visitors.

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Room occupancy increased slightly, to 84.4 percent for the year, and average hotel room rates increased by a little less than 3 percent, to $108 per night.

Gambling revenue for Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, grew by 2 percent to $9.4 billion

Casinos report 1.5%

more profits in ’12

Nevada casinos won $10.8 billion from gamblers last year, representing a 1.5 percent increase over 2011 and the third consecutive year of gains after stiff declines since the recession, state regulators reported.

Gamblers to Nevada’s casinos wagered $139.6 billion on slot machines, table games and sports betting, up 0.3 percent from 2011. A breakdown shows the $107 billion pumped into slot and video gambling machines was down half a percent, but $32.6 billion bet on games rose almost 5 percent, representing the highest amount ever recorded for games volume, said Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the state Gaming Control Board.

The statewide game and table win was $4.1 billion, up 2.9 percent. Of that, baccarat, a high-roller game favored by Asian players, accounted for $1.4 billion. Baccarat winnings were up almost 9 percent last year.

“For three straight years, baccarat has recorded the largest win amount for any game, representing 12.7 percent of the total statewide gaming win,” Lawton said. “Ten years ago, it was 3.8 percent of total win.”

Resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, Nevada’s gambling mecca, won $6.2 billion to post a 2.3 percent gain over 2011. Strip winnings amounted to 57.2 percent of the total state win, marking the fourth consecutive year the Strip has a set a record of dominance in relation to the statewide take.

Downtown Las Vegas casinos also recorded a positive year, winning $509 million, up 2.5 percent from 2011.

MGM Resorts aims

for Toronto market

MGM Resorts International entered into a partnership with a Canadian real estate developer to bid on, build and operate a hotel-casino complex in Toronto. MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren said the 50/50 joint venture with The Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd. gives the Las Vegas-based casino giant a partner with extensive Canadian development experience. MGM Resorts, along with Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Caesars Entertainment Corp., are exploring a potential casino development in Toronto. The Ontario Lottery Corp. has selected Toronto, Canada’s largest city, for a single casino destination. But the concept still needs the approval of city leaders and residents.

Merger, sales plans

boost stock prices

Mergers and acquisitions are good for the gambling industry.

Two planned buyouts helped fuel average daily stock price increases for publicly traded casino operators and gamgling equipment manufacturers during January.

Pinnacle Entertainment announced in late December it would buy regional gambling rival Ameristar Casinos for an enterprise value of $2.8 billion. Lottery equipment provider Scientific Games Corp. announced an acquisition of slot machine manufacturer WMS industries in deal worth $1.5 billion.

Brian Gordon, a partner in Las Vegas-based financial adviser Applied Analysis, said both transactions, which could close this year, helped fuel interest in the gambling sector.

“A recent acquisition and investor anticipation of the quarterly earnings season drove valuations higher during the month,” said Gordon, whose company follows the progress of eight casino operators and four equipment providers for the Applied Analysis Gaming Index.

The uptick in stock prices and market capitalizations help push the Gaming Index up 7.9 percent to 460.08. The index accounts for some 300 market variables.

Caesars exec to aid

Hispanic Chamber

One of the gambling industry’s best-known diversity relations executives has been named chairman of a committee for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that links the organization with Fortune 1000 corporations.

Tony Gladney, vice president of national diversity relations for Caesars Entertainment Corp., was named chairman the Washington D.C.-based Hispanic Chamber’s Senior Executive Corporate Advisory Board.

In his role with Caesars, Gladney is responsible for assisting with the implementation of the casino company’s diversity initiative. He is the chief liaison office for the company’s strategic partner relations on the local, regional and national levels.

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