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Miss. casino revenue drops in 13th month out of 15

Jeff Amy, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi casinos won less money from gamblers in September for the 13th month out of 15, as casinos along the Mississippi River continued to lag badly.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show statewide casino revenue fell 4.4 percent from September 2012 to $170.2 million.

The 12 coastal casinos won $88.2 million from gamblers, up 1.7 percent from $86.7 million in September 2012. The 18 river casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $82 million, down 10 percent from $91.2 million a year earlier.

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

Revenue statewide is down about 4.5 percent over the last 12 months. After hitting nearly $2.9 billion in 2007, revenue fell 22 percent to $2.25 billion in 2012. And the take is on track to dip another $100 million in 2013, state figures show.

Revenue is dropping because fewer people are coming through the doors at the state's 30 casinos. The number of customers fell from 10.1 million in the months of April, May and June 2007 to 6.4 million in the same three months of 2013, according to the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

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 at two racetracks in Arkansas. Some casinos have suffered financial distress, and the industry as a whole has been shedding workers.

Revenues in Arkansas rose almost six-fold from 2007 to 2012 and continue to go up. They were 17 percent higher in July than a year earlier.

In Louisiana, state-licensed casinos won $182.2 million in September — nearly 9 percent less than a year earlier. In September 2012, a new casino opened in Baton Rouge, and year-over-year comparisons with 2013 were very unfavorable there, with the three-casino market falling nearly 17 percent. Other markets saw smaller drops.


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