AP News

Casino revenues fall in Mississippi in September


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Casino revenue on the Mississippi Gulf Coast showed some improvement in September, but the state's gamblers lost less along the Mississippi River, dragging down overall receipts.

Statewide casino revenue fell 4.3 percent from September 2011, to $177.9 million, according to Mississippi Department of Revenue figures.

The 17 river casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $91.2 million, down 10 percent from the $101.6 million they won in September of last year.

In September, the 12 coastal casinos won a total of $86.7 million from gamblers, up 2.8 percent from the $84.3 million they won in September 2011. The increase came despite a prediction by one Louisiana that the opening of a new gambling hall in Baton Rouge would cut Mississippi coast numbers,

Revenue for the coastal casinos is slightly down over the last 12 months, while despite the recovery from 2011's flood, revenue at the river casinos is up just more than 1 percent. Statewide, revenue over the last 12 months is up 0.33 percent.

Autumn is traditionally one of the weakest periods for Mississippi gambling halls, and some are adjusting by trimming the number of employees.

Last week, the Fitz Casino & Hotel Tunica laid off an unspecified number of employees, citing a soft economy, seasonal fluctuations and increased competition.

Webster Franklin, CEO of the Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau, said more than 3,500 workers have been laid off from the county's nine casinos since 2007. He said the gambling halls were walloped by the recession, increasing competition from nearby states and the 2011 Mississippi River Flood.

"It's just been kind of a triple whammy on us," Franklin said.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant Biloxi laid off about 50 full-time and 150 part-time workers at the beginning of September, saying it needed to slim down at the end of the summer tourist season.

Mississippi's numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren't required to report winnings to the state.

Next door to Mississippi, Louisiana's state-licensed casinos won $199.7 million at state licensed casinos in September, up from $188 million for August and $196.6 million for September of last year.


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