Gaming take

Any good news on the economy is welcome these days, so it was at least somewhat heartening that numbers released last week reveal the state's dominant industry finally has managed to halt its downward revenue trend.

Gambling revenue was up 4 percent in November 2009 -- casinos won nearly $873.2 million -- when compared with the same month from 2008.

It was the first time in 22 months that revenues had showed an increase when compared with the same period a year earlier.

As usual, the Strip led the way, accounting for more than half of the revenue collected and an 8.3 percent increase.

Overall, gaming revenue collections for the first six months of the current fiscal year remain about 5 percent below the previous fiscal year's pace. That's a significant amount given that the gaming tax accounts for about 30 percent of the state's general fund.

And even a sustained turnaround on the gaming take, lasting well into this year, won't be enough to shield the governor and state lawmakers from a looming budget meltdown.

Yes, Nevada still has a long way to go -- the November improvement does indeed look a bit less encouraging against the fact that November 2008 was a terrible month.

But read with the opening of the Strip's next major attraction, MGM Mirage's CityCenter; the flattening of the state's unemployment rate; and a slight uptick in visitor volume, the November gaming numbers offer a flicker of optimism that the state's economy may yet pick itself up off the floor.