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Mississippi casino revenue fell 2 percent in 2017

Casino revenues fell in 2017 across Mississippi, as slight gains by Gulf Coast casinos couldn’t overcome continued declines at gambling halls along the Mississippi River.

State Revenue Department figures released this week show statewide revenue fell 2 percent for the year to $2.08 billion, down more than $40 million from 2016. December was better, with gamblers losing $176 million statewide, up 3 percent from $171 million in December 2016.

The 12 coastal casinos saw revenue for the year rise less than 1 percent to $1.19 billion. It was, just barely, the fourth consecutive year of gains for those casinos. Winnings rose 7 percent in December to $99 million, the year’s second-strongest gain behind November.

The 16 river casinos added another year to their losing streak, having posted revenue declines every year but one since peaking in 2006. Revenue fell 5 percent for the year to $885 million. The decline for December was less severe, falling only 1.4 percent to $77 million from the year before. Over the long term, casinos in Tunica County and Lula in particular have suffered from increasing competition from two racetrack casinos in Arkansas.

Mississippi, which accounting firm Rubin Brown reports has the third-lowest effective tax rate on casinos among states, collected about $250 million in gambling taxes in 2017.

Figures from the previous year, 2016, show Mississippi was the sixth-largest gambling state nationwide. The Gulf Coast was the eighth-largest casino market, according to the American Gaming Association, while the Tunica/Lula area was the 17th largest.

Numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don’t report winnings to the state.

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