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Casino Revenue Drops in Mississippi

Statewide casino revenues fell 9 percent with gamblers losing less in January 2013 than any other January since 1997. The question is: did they just gamble elsewhere, or did they give it up?

The state did have a 1 percent gain in 2012 after rebounding from the effects of 2011 flooding but generally revenues have fallen every month since July.

Excluding Indian casinos, which aren’t required to report winnings, river casino revenues went from $89.2 million in January 2012 to $77.9 million in January 2013, down 13 percent. Coastal casino revenue dropped 5 percent from $87.8 million to $83.3 million for the same period.

Although casino revenue rose in 2012 after falling every year since its 2007 peak, they remained 22 percent below the top level.

Some think that the revenues are down due to the expansion of casinos in Arkansas. John Hairston of the Mississippi Gaming Commission doesn’t think so. He thinks that the economic recession has discouraged some people from spending at casinos, and that the competition isn’t the only problem. He expects his revenues will go up again.

Casino gambling in Mississippi dates back to the early 1990s. A condition of the law at that time was that gaming areas had to be offshore or on the water. A “New York Times” report dated January 31, 2003, the Mississippi Gaming Commission received 29 applications to build and operate casinos, a clear recognition by investors of the potential for profit.

In 1988 the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed and Indian casinos began to make their mark in Mississippi.

In August 2005, floating casinos on the Gulf Coast suffered significant damage and destruction but to Hurricane Katrina. In October 2005, a law was passed to permit the rebuilding of casinos on the shore. Eventually 13 of the casinos were back up running.

On the one hand, statistics show that In 2007 casinos provided jobs plus more than $332 million in tax revenue. On the other hand, some might say that gambling ends up being a form of voluntary taxation, as it empties the pockets of dreaming citizens and fills the owners’ and the state’s coffers.

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