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The Associated Press April 24, 2012, 12:06PM ET

Mississippi casino revenues rise in March

March winnings at Mississippi's casinos rose 3.9 percent for a year ago, the third time in the last four months that revenues have improved at the state's 29 gambling halls.

An improving economy appears to be bringing gamblers back, while coast casinos may have been boosted by the Final Four being held in New Orleans.

Overall, Mississippi casinos won $220.4 million, compared with $212.1 million in March 2011.

The 11 casinos in the Gulf Coast market saw revenue rise 4.8 percent, to $101.6 million from $96.9 million. It was the largest take by Gulf casinos since July 2009.

The 18 casinos along the Mississippi River saw revenues rise 3.1 percent, to $118.8 million from $115.2 million, even though Vicksburg's Grand Station casino closed on March 28.

The figures do not include Choctaw Indian casinos, which are not required to report their winnings to the state.

March is traditionally one of the strongest months for Mississippi casinos.

The state's gambling halls have struggled to regain momentum after the recession, with revenue sliding for four straight years after hitting a high of $2.89 billion in 2007.

March winnings for Louisiana's state-licensed casinos jumped 5.8 percent from a year ago.

Pennsylvania slot machines won $233.1 million in March -- an all-time high since casinos went into the state in 2006. In neighboring New Jersey, which has struggled since casinos came to Pennsylvania, the take at Atlantic City was down 5.5 percent last month as compared with March 2011. But Nevada saw a 5.7 percent increase in the February-to-February comparison, a gain that state regulators said was across the board for most casinos.

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