Mississippi Casinos Reach lowest Levels Since 1997February 4, 2014 1:45 pm
Mississippi’s 2013 casino figures mark more bad news for the state as gross gaming revenues fell by 5.1% to $2.136 billion compared to $2.251 billion collected for the previous year. The latest results mark the lowest annual total since 1997 when Mississippi’s casinos generated $1.984 billion, and was also substantially off the state’s highest ever year when revenues reached $2.891 billion in 2007.
Around that time, competition from other regulated gaming markets started eating into Mississippi casino revenue, which has been in steady decline ever since. Especially hit has been the Mississippi River casinos, which have seen their revenues plummet 33% in six years from a peak of $1.589 billion in 2007 to $1.072 billion in 2013.
Further bad news could also be on its way for The Magnolia State’s Gulf Coast gambling venues as Florida lawmakers meet on March 4th to discuss casino gaming expansion. Commenting on the worrying trend, Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said: “I think competition is really hurting everyone..There’s no telling how that will end up. But if they do expand it, we will feel the impact. Just like we feel the impact from the Poarch casinos in Alabama and the casino in West Memphis.”
Nevertheless, Mississippi can take solace in the fact that other casino markets in the US have seen their revenues fall in 2013, including Pennsylvania down 1.4% to $3.11bn, Ohio down 9.8% to $1.07bn, Atlantic City down 6% to $2.86bn, and Indiana down 7.6% to$2.5bn.
A ray of hope may on the horizon for Mississippi, however, as many of Mississippi’s coastal casinos and its Lower River Region have now begun investing millions of dollars in their properties as they seek to become more amenity-driven and attract more visitors to the state. As Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association, explains:
“..the Gulf Coast is doing okay. Certainly, they could be better, but they’re maintaining their product. They’re going to have to maintain their product because people are not coming just to sit in front of a slot machine. They are wanting a lot more for their entertainment dollars.”