- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The madness created by college basketball betting in Nevada is among the factors that led to a lucrative March for casinos statewide.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported Wednesday that casinos across the state brought in more than $991 million last month, an almost 7.5 percent increase compared to a year ago.

Sports bettors, table game players and strong visitation combined to almost carry the state’s casinos to the $1 billion mark.

“It’s a good solid number for sure,” Michael Lawton, senior research analyst for the board, said of last month’s revenue. “In the last nine months, we’ve done $1 billion twice. Hopefully, we’ll start seeing those in a more regular basis.”

Basketball enthusiasts last month bet a record $429.5 million, of which Nevada sports books took in $41.3 million, an increase of 91.7 percent, also setting a record. Meanwhile, slot machines yielded casinos $655.4 million, up 6.3 percent or $38.8 million.

Revenue from table games was $335.6 million, up 9.8 percent or $29.9 million. Casinos posted increased revenues for table games even though baccarat - a volatile, high-roller game - was down more than 11 percent.

“If baccarat would have done little better, we probably could have been there,” Lawton said referring to the $1 billion mark.

Lawton explained that a large gathering of construction professionals, which brought 130,000 people to Las Vegas, as well as an additional Friday in the month compared to last year also influenced the reported revenue.

Las Vegas Strip gambling revenues were up 8 percent to $526.1 million, while downtown revenues increased 22.6 percent to $62.9 million. Reno casinos won $50.8 million, which is up 8 percent year-over-year. South Lake Tahoe gambling revenues dropped 2.3 percent to 16.7 million.

Gambling revenues in the first three months of 2017 are up 4.8 percent over the same period last year.

The state benefited by collecting more than $80 million in percentage fees from casinos based on the taxable revenues generated in March. That’s up more than 10.4 percent from a year earlier.

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO / More of her work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/ReginaGarciaCano

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