LAS VEGAS -- People are coming back to Las Vegas and spending more cash which seems to be signs that the economy is on the path to recovery.
Casino winnings in May jumped more than 16 percent in Nevada compared to the same time last year. Because of that spike, the state took in nearly 18 percent more in taxes. The Las Vegas Strip saw a huge year-to-year increase as well of nearly 29 percent. More visitors also came to the Strip. Casino taxes account for about a third of state general fund revenues.
The gaming numbers show more than just dollar figures. The statistics are indicative of who's visiting Nevada.
"We've been gambling away. The Wheel of Fortune is awesome," said Cindy Ortiz who is visiting from Texas.
Nina Gonzalez has also been gambling and despite even losing some money, she plans to keep spending the rest of the week while visiting Las Vegas.
UNLV's Gaming Research Center Director David G. Schwartz says the increase is good news but says the fact that Strip slot play is up is even better news.
"When you see the overall slot hold go up, that means that the masses are coming. The people that come and just spend a couple of hundred dollars over the weekend are gambling again," said Schwartz.
Baccarat also saw significant increases on the Strip. That number jumped by nearly $430 million.
"Baccarat play going up means they are getting the high rollers to come in. They are getting the high action play which is the reason they build all of the fancy suites and all of that so that means they are able to get the big money people here," Schwartz said.
Tourists that talked with 8 News NOw say a trip to Las Vegas now is much more financially comfortable than last year even though some say they are following a budget.
"I gamble more than my wife wants me to but less than I want," said Joe Housman.
"We still have to budget and plan ahead. We still try to cut corners as much as we can," said Al Ness.
Some resort officials say the recent gaming numbers are encouraging and they hope to keep that enthusiasm up and running.
"Now, since I'm better off financially, I'm better to just play games and let Lady Luck fall where it falls," said Ortiz.
Events that drew in people and money in May included the Manny Pacquiao fight as well as some UFC fights.