As Gov. Jim Gibbons sidles up to the federal trough, indulging Nevada's dangerous and counterproductive addiction to Washington bailouts (see above), bad economic news continues to dog the state.
Nevada's cash cow -- the gaming industry -- finished off three straight years of decline for the first time in state history, regulators announced Thursday.
Winnings at Nevada casinos decreased 6.6 percent in June when compared with the same period a year earlier. That pushed the overall decrease for the 2009-10 fiscal year to 4.3 percent when held up against the previous 12 months.
Casinos won $10.3 billion during the fiscal year, down from $10.8 billion in 2008-09. The June win was just $764 million -- you have to go back to April 2003 to find the last time the take was so low.
The trend was statewide. Although casinos in the Carson Valley area and South Lake Tahoe saw winnings increase, the rest of the state remained in decline, including a 7.6 percent drop on the Strip.
Taxes paid on gaming activity make up one-third of the state's general fund revenue. While sales tax collections have stabilized somewhat, the continued decline in gaming numbers -- along with the state's record foreclosure and unemployment rates -- indicates that Nevada has yet to experience the modest economic recovery taking hold in other regions.
All the more reason that state officials exercise a frugality and restraint already familiar to struggling Nevada taxpayers.