Miss. casino revenue again drops sharply in July

JEFF AMY, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A sharp drop in coastal casino revenue contributed to a 6 percent drop in Mississippi gambling revenue in July.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show statewide casino revenue fell 6 percent to $192.1 million.

The 12 coastal casinos won $97 million from gamblers, down 8 percent from the $105.4 million they won in July 2012. The 18 riverboat casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $95.2 million, down 4 percent from the $93.7 million they won in July 2012.

The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren’t required to report winnings to the state.

Year-over-year casino revenue has fallen in all but one month since July 2012. Mississippi casinos, over the last 12 months, have collected only about 75 percent of what they collected in the peak revenue year of 2007. Revenues have fallen at Mississippi casinos every year since that time. There was a brief improvement in the early part of 2012, but the downward trend resumed. Industry leaders have said that along the Mississippi River, Tunica and Lula casinos have suffered from competition from expanding gambling in Arkansas. Various casino owners have showed signs of financial stress or have laid off workers as revenues have fallen.

Revenues continue to rise in Arkansas. They were 19 percent higher in July than a year earlier.

Next door, Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos won $212.6 million in July, up 7.6 percent from the $197.6 million they won in July 2012. Though the Margaritaville casino that opened in Bossier City cut into the revenues of other gambling halls in that part of the state, the overall take rose. The story was similar in Baton Rouge, where L’Auberge Baton Rouge, less than a year old, continues to expand the overall gambling market there.