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Mississippi's May casino revenues offer economic encouragement

Casino_rouletter_wheel RGBFor those who judge casino spending as an indicator of increased leisure spending and economic recovery, May was a good month.

Just 30 days after one of the worst casino revenue months in the last 15 years, an abrupt reversal by the state’s Gulf Coast casinos in May have sparked Mississippi casinos to their first year-over-year increase in two years.

Overall, the state’s 30 casinos produced $192.7 million in gross gaming revenue in May. That’s a 3 percent increase over May of 2012, when gamblers lost $187 million, according to records released Friday on the Mississippi Gaming Commission website.

In April 2013, revenue was $176.3 million, the lowest April since 1998 when revenues were at $172.6 million.

The state does not release information for individual casinos, but does release separate totals for the 12 Gulf Coast casinos and the 18 river county casinos.

Gulf Coast casinos had shown signs of recovery in March, but plummeted to a 15-year low (with the exception of the post-Katrina year) in April. The coast casinos won $95.1 million in May, an increase of more than $4 million over May 2012. Increases from April to May are common on the coast, but this year’s jump of $9.5 million is the largest April-to-May jump since 2008.

Since the Mississippi River floods of 2011, the river county casinos – particularly the Tunica County casinos — have been in a revenue freefall. The year-over-year increase in May was small — $96 million to $97.6 million — but it was the first such increase since March of 2012. The $97.6 million in May was an increase of $7 million over April of this year.

In an effort to stop the trend, some Tunica casinos have instituted a $1 million giveaway every Saturday night and are planning an advertising campaign to counter negative-stereotype ads from a greyhound park and casino in Arkansas.

The state does not report Choctaw Indian casino revenues.


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