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October Miss. casino revenue dips near 15-year low

Jeff Amy, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi casinos stumbled through their worst revenue month in October since September 1998.

Gamblers lost 8 percent less than in October 2011 as statewide casino revenue fell to $167.4 million, according to Mississippi Department of Revenue figures. That's down from $182.2 million a year ago.

If poor results continue, the state's gambling halls could collect less money in 2012 than in 2011, even though the prior year saw Mississippi River casinos closed for much of May because of flooding.

The 17 river casinos from Tunica to Natchez won $83.9 million, down 11 percent from the $93.9 million they won in October 2011. The 12 coastal casinos won $83.5 million from gamblers, down 5 percent from the $88.2 million they won in October 2011.

Fall is traditionally one of the weakest periods for Mississippi gambling halls, and some have cut back on employees. Plus, the calendar didn't favor October 2012, which had only 12 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays compared to 14 in the same month of 2011. Many more gamblers crowd slot machines on weekends.

Revenues have fallen at Mississippi casinos every year since peaking in 2007. Casino owners had hoped 2012 would be the year that trend would be reversed. Through the first 10 months of 2012, revenues are 0.7 percent, or $13 million, ahead of 2011. But revenues statewide have been down by an average of almost 5 percent each month since July. While coast casinos have been close to flat in that time, river casinos have seen gamblers lose an average of 8.4 percent less each month since July.

The 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 $185 million from gamblers in October, slightly more than the $181.4 million they won in October 2011.