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Coast casinos up, river boats down

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi’s 30 state-licensed casinos saw a drop in winnings from gamblers last month, although casinos on the Gulf Coast posted a slight increase in perhaps a sign that tight financial times for the business are starting to loosen a bit.

Players lost $199.1 million in April, a 2.9 percent decrease from $205.1 million in April 2009, the Mississippi State Tax Commission said.

The 11 casinos on the Gulf Coast won $93.3 million last month, up slightly from $92.6 million in April 2000. The 19 casinos on the Mississippi River — including Tunica, Vicksburg, Greenville, Lula and Natchez — took in $105.8 million from players, down 6.5 percent from $112.5 million in April 2009.

Casinos nationwide have been fighting a recession that has tightened player wallets and reduced travel.

“I can’t imagine that anything has changed from last month,” Allen Godfrey, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said Wednesday. “Maybe we’re to the point of leveling out. The decreases are down and maybe we’re about to start seeing some increases.”

Other casino states have seen some recent signs that the worst of the drops may be over.

In Louisiana, last month’s casino winnings were virtually unchanged from April 2009. The 18-state licensed casinos there won $200.5 million, down 1 percent from $202.6 million during the previous April.

After posting double-digit losses in monthly comparisons in 2009, New Jersey reported April revenue from Atlantic City casinos was down only 0.7 percent from April 2009, while Nevada said its casino winnings in a March-to-March comparison — the latest available — fell only 0.6 percent.

The March-to-March comparison in Mississippi showed revenue down 8.6 percent.

Despite the tougher times, Godfrey said the commission is still dealing with groups interested in building additional casinos in Mississippi.

“We’ve got people still coming in wanting to do business with us,” he said. “That’s a positive.”

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