2010 casino take drops 3 percent

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi’s state-licensed casinos won $2.39 billion from players in 2010 — a nearly 3 percent drop from what gamblers lost in 2009.

Business was down slightly in December with casinos taking in $184.6 million compared to $185 million on December 2009, according to figures reported Friday by the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

In 2009, casino winnings totaled $2.46 billion in Mississippi.

The year-to-year drop was typical for most states with casinos, although there have been signs of post-recession life in some areas — and the bottom dropping out in others.

Over the last five months, Nevada casinos have seen a 2.5 percent increase in revenue over the same period of 2009 after repeated months of double-dip decreases triggered by the 2008 economic meltdown. But increased competition from casinos in Pennsylvania has devastated Atlantic City, N.J., which recorded a 31 percent drop in gambling revenue from 2006 to 2010.

Louisiana’s casinos won $2.37 billion from players in 2010 — a 3.3 percent drop over what was left behind in 2009. In 2009, casino winnings totaled $2.45 billion in Louisiana.

Business was up slightly for December in Louisiana with state police reporting that last month the casinos won $204.3 million, compared with $192.4 million in December 2009.

The take from gamblers at the 30 casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River does not include the state’s Indian tribal casinos, which are not required to report their winnings to the public.

“Win” is a gross figure, with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. It is casino revenue only and doesn’t include hotel, restaurant or bar revenues generated by the resorts.

The Department of Revenue reported that the 11 South Mississippi casinos won $87.4 million in December, up from $83.5 million in December 2009.

For the 19 casinos on the Mississippi River that stretch from Natchez to Tunica, revenue was $97.1 million in December, about $4.3 million less than a year ago. In December 2009, the river casinos took in $101.4 million.

The Department of Revenue reports gaming revenue on a calendar year basis.

Cory Morowitz, a casino analyst with Galloway, N.J.-based Morowitz Gaming Advisors, said Thursday that despite a trend of stabilization in some casino markets, the business has a long way to go to full recovery.

“Across the U.S., except for small pockets, we don’t expect the consumer to be back for three to five years. This isn’t your normal recession. People are trying to pay off debt and we are waiting for unemployment to come down,” Morowitz said.