- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada gambling revenue jumped 10 percent and crossed the psychologically important $1 billion threshold in July, thanks to more weekend days in the calendar and good luck for casinos offering the high-roller game of baccarat.

July’s statistics from the Nevada Gaming Control Board show a sharp, 17 percent increase in winnings from the Las Vegas Strip, which is the state’s biggest gambling center. Baccarat revenue accounted for more than $150 million in the statewide casino revenue, rising 44 percent in July compared with a year ago.

“From the state’s point of view, that was a pleasant surprise on the baccarat side,” said Gaming Control Board senior analyst Michael Lawton, adding that an extra Saturday and Sunday also helped.

Nevada exceeded $1 billion in gambling revenue for just the third time in the past 36 months, and July’s number was the biggest recorded since December 2013. The state has struggled to cross the mark much since the recession.

Most of the money came from the Las Vegas Strip, which raked in $613 million. The strong month means the Strip is now doing better so far this calendar year than last, and that’s the case in all the major gambling markets in the state except for the Carson Valley in northern Nevada, Lawton said.

Downtown Las Vegas winnings notched up about 3 percent to $42 million in July. Reno casino revenue surged 11 percent to $56 million, and South Lake Tahoe revenue rose 20 percent to $28 million in July.

Slot machine winnings were basically flat at $601 million statewide, while revenue from games was up 29 percent to $414 million in July. The $222 million that bettors wagered on sports was more than in any other July on record, although casinos only collected $11 million off the play.

The state collected $68 million in tax money based off July gambling revenue, which is up 20 percent from the same time last year.

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