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 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 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.
Members of the Culinary and Bartenders unions voted Thursday to authorize a strike at 10 downtown Las Vegas casinos and 2 other properties, though they have not determined when strikes could begin.
The authorization comes after more than a year-and-a-half of negotiation with the casinos, said Culinary Local 226 spokeswoman Bethany Khan.
The casino properties in question: Binion’s, El Cortez, Four Queens, Fremont, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club, Las Vegas Plaza, Main Street Station, and The D.
The vote also affects workers at the Margaritaville restaurant on the Strip and Brady Laundries, which provides linen services for casino workers.
About 5,000 Culinary and Bartender union employees work at all 12 properties. Of the unspecified number of workers who voted, 99 percent were in favor of the action.
Many of those properties are independently owned, unlike several of the MGM and Caesars properties on the Strip, which means union leaders have to meet with casino executives separately.
Since contracts expired in 2013, union leaders have tried to negotiate health benefits, better wages and a guaranteed work week.
Passenger counts at McCarran International Airport climbed for the fifth straight month in February. International arrivals continued to lead the way.
The Clark County Department of Aviation announced Thursday that 3.1 million passengers passed through McCarran’s gates in February, a 2.4 percent increase from the month a year ago and the first February since 2012 that the 3 million mark was eclipsed.
International counts increased by 4 percent to 227,312 passengers for the month while domestic arrivals rose by 2.2 percent to 2.8 million people.
Passenger counts grew by a greater percentage than capacity, an indication that airlines had greater success filling their planes in February. Analysts said the city’s strong convention calendar for the month boosted growth.
Las Vegas market leader Southwest Airlines continued to provide the most passengers with 1.2 million for the month, a 1.1 percent increase from February 2012. Southwest had a fractional increase in seats into the market, due to expanding the capacity of its Boeing 737 jets with an additional row of seats.
Among the top five carriers serving McCarran, legacy carriers Delta and United and Las Vegas-based Allegiant had passenger declines.
Delta, the No. 2 operator at McCarran, had a 10.7 percent decline in passengers, to 254,258. Delta had more flights but fewer seats to market than a year ago, an indication that the airline has rerouted its fleet to bring smaller aircraft to Las Vegas.
United reduced the number of flights and seats in February, resulting in a 1.3 percent decline in passengers to 274,247.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. said Wednesday it would close one of its three casinos in Tunica, Miss., on June 2, saying “persistent declines in business” made the market’s largest casino hotel unprofitable.
John Payne, president of Caesars Central Markets, said the decision to close the 1,360-room Harrah’s Tunica was “difficult but necessary.”
The casino employs about 1,300 and operates 1,340 slot machines and 70 table games.
The company called it another step in ongoing efforts to increase free cash flow and improve the balance sheet.
Caesars will continue to operate two casinos in the Northern Mississippi market — the 510-room Horseshoe Casino Tunica and the 130-room Tunica Roadhouse.
In a statement, Caesars Entertainment said it will attempt to find new jobs for as many employees as possible. The employees will receive preference at other Caesars Entertainment properties, including the two remaining in the Tunica area and those under development in Las Vegas.
IGI job cuts
A decline in gaming revenues in U.S. regional gaming markets and a challenging business environment in foreign destinations forced slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology to reduce its workforce worldwide by 7 percent, the company said Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.