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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mississippi: June casino revenue takes a slide

June casino revenue takes a slide

Published: July 22, 2013

BILOXI -- The grand opening of the Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi in June wasn't enough to move casino revenue on the Coast above last year's levels.

The same thing happened last month in Louisiana, where the new Margaritaville Casino was open in Bossier City for 17 days and took in $7.9 million, but revenue statewide was down $8.3 million from a year ago.

The 12 casinos in South Mississippi finished June with gross casino revenue down 5 percent from June 2012, according to the report released Monday by the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The amount won by the casinos dropped to $85.2 million from $89.9 million a year earlier.
Bradley Rhines, vice president of marketing at the Golden Nugget, said revenue has exceeded expectations since the Isle Casino was rebranded as the Golden Nugget June 21.

"That trend has continued through July," he said. "We've been encouraged by the turnout."

The Golden Nugget is giving away four Mustangs this summer as a promotion to draw new visitors and Rhines said they are signing up visitors to their players' club that were never registered at the Isle Casino, exposing new people to the market and the Golden Nugget brand.

Revenue at Mississippi's river casinos dropped by 8 percent in June. Winnings were $89.3 million from $97.0 million a year ago. The state's casino revenue was down $12.4 million, or 7 percent, from June 2012.

Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association, said June's numbers aren't drastic or unexpected.

"Less people are coming to the state and are spending less dollars. We know that," he said. "We have to stop it."

In South Mississippi, he said the new three-county tourism commission is looking for an answer to declining tourism. Gregory said what is needed to draw people to the casinos is more non-casino activities.

Declining revenues also impact taxpayers in South Mississippi, since fewer tax dollars are being shared by the state and local governments and school districts.

For the first six months of the year, Coast casino revenue is $541 million compared to $562 million from January to June in 2012 and $566 million in 2011.

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