- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada gambling revenue in August dropped a little more than 1 percent from a year earlier, pulled down by an ongoing slide in baccarat play linked to a wavering economy in China.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said Wednesday that the state’s casinos kept $908 million of the money gamblers wagered in August, which is down 1.4 percent from August 2014.

Las Vegas Strip casino revenue fell nearly 5 percent to $527 million, while downtown Las Vegas brought in $40 million for a 15 percent gain. Reno casino revenue fell 4 percent to $51 million, and South Lake Tahoe revenue tumbled 34 percent to $19 million.

The state collected almost $52 million in tax money based off the winnings, a 2 percent increase from the same time last year.

It was an off month for table games. Revenue from the “tables and games” sector, which also includes bingo, keno and sports betting, totaled $332.6 million in August and was down 16.4 percent year-over-year. Baccarat led the sinking numbers, falling 25.1 percent to $127 million.

Baccarat revenue is continuing a slide that began a year ago and is down 21.2 percent so far this year compared with the same period last year. The overall amount gambled in the game was $880 million in August, a decrease of 16.2 percent.

Baccarat, favored by high rollers from Asia, has been on the decline as Chinese officials continue an anti-corruption campaign. It’s also suffering as Chinese economic growth has slowed and the country devalued its currency.

“The players over there are being cautious and conservative,” said Mike Lawton, senior research analyst at the Gaming Control Board.

If baccarat weren’t included, the table and games sector would look much rosier. Revenue from table games and other live betting, minus baccarat, was up 4 percent in August compared with last year. There was only one month this year that non-baccarat table and game revenue fell.

Slot machines are a bright spot in Nevada gambling, Lawton said. The state’s casinos had $575.7 million in slot revenue in August, up 10 percent from a year ago.

Overall, bettors put $8.8 billion in Nevada slot machines in August, which is down 1.7 percent.

“The economy is improving, people are going back to work, and gas prices being where they are doesn’t hurt,” Lawton said about the improving slot machine outlook.

Still, he said, slot play hasn’t fully rebounded to pre-recession levels.

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