Miss. casino gross revenue at $239M in August

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mississippi’s gross gaming revenues reached $239.8 million in August, down $27.8 million from July.

Win, or casino revenue, is the net amount of money won from gamblers. It is not profit.

The gross earnings figure represents revenue with no operating costs or other expenses deducted. And it’s casino revenue only — separate from hotel, restaurant or bar revenues generated by the resorts.

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Mississippi coast casinos celebrated the 15th anniversary of gambling in Mississippi by posting their best August on record with $108.9 million in gross gaming revenue.

The coast casinos revenue figure was down 12.7 percent from July, which set an all-time one-month record of $124.7 million at the coast casinos. When Hurricane Katrina closed all the casinos before the storm struck on Aug. 29, 2005, the revenue for August was $105.9 million.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” said Beverly Martin, executive director of the Gulf Coast Gaming Association, of August’s lower revenue for coast casinos.

“That’s kind of typical,” she said, because school locally starts in early August and people are occupied with back-to-school.

“It really does affect the tourist season,” she said of starting school before Labor Day.

The casinos along the Mississippi River reported revenue of $130.9 million, down about $13 million from July.

For the first eight months of this year, Mississippi casinos have earned $1.98 billion, according to State Tax Commission figures.

Gaming tax collections are tracked on the state’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to the next June 30. Casino tax collections in August totaled $26.9 million, compared to $35.3 million in July.

Mike Bruffey, an associate with the Biloxi law firm of Brown Buchanan and a casino development consultant, said investors look at the monthly revenue, and the fluctuations “might impact the scope of their project,” causing them to scale down their plans or build in phases.

The positive numbers are creating a buzz beyond the regional market of neighboring states where the casinos traditionally market.

Bruffey said that the expansion of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and more non-casino attractions are key to expanding the marketing area of the casinos well beyond the Coast.

With casinos building and still rebuilding, “We’ll be able to tell more when we look at next month’s trends,” Martin said.

“We’re anxious to see how November is when the bridge opens. We just don’t know,” she said, whether the reopening of the Biloxi Bay bridge after more than two years will bring higher profits to the coast casinos.