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Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao boosts casino winnings over $1 billion

Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao fight in

Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao fight in a welterweight unification bout on May 2, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: Getty Images

LAS VEGAS - Huge crowds and high rollers in Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight helped Nevada casinos make more than $1 billion off gamblers in May, according to records released Friday.

It was the first time casinos exceeded that total in more than a year.

"To hit a billion, we're pretty pleased," said Nevada Gaming Control Board analyst Michael Lawton.

Slot machines and tables were packed on fight night, May 2, and casinos responded by raising limits to accommodate big spenders.

It was the start of a busy month that included the new Rock in Rio outdoor music festival, the World Series of Poker and Memorial Day weekend.

The last time casino winnings topped $1 billion was December 2013.

Gaming board statistics show a 3.3 percent year-over-year increase for May, and Strip casinos were up 1.4 percent, keeping $601.2 million of what gamblers wagered.

The bumps came despite the loss of the Riviera Hotel and Casino, a Las Vegas Strip mainstay that closed at the beginning of the month.

Lawton and other industry analysts noted that increases of any sort were significant, since May 2014 was big for casinos thanks to an anomalous surge in losses for gamblers playing baccarat.

The fight also helped boost sports betting. "Other" bets that include boxing but not football, basketball, baseball and horse racing, hit a record total of $81.2 million wagered and $8.2 million won by casinos.

The long-awaited matchup also helped produce a surge at McCarran International Airport, which reported nearly 4 million passengers last month, the most for May since the recession.

And the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said a record number of travelers -- 3.7 million people -- hit town, filling 91 percent of the available hotel rooms for the month.

"It shows," said Brent Pirosch, a gambling industry analyst for commercial real estate company CBRE, "that if you get people excited, they will show up."

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