Mississippi's Casino Market Continues to Struggle in January

Mississippi's Casinos Market Continue to Struggle in JanuaryMississippi’s casino market generated $151 million in January, representing an almost 9% drop from the $166 million it collected in the same month a year earlier. Last month’s results follow a lackluster performance in 2017 in which the state’s coastal and river casinos collectively saw their revenues fall by 2% to $2.08 billion, or $40 million less than 2016’s total.
The state’s 16 river casinos generated $59 million in January, lower by 12% versus the $67 million that was won in January 2017, according to the latest information released by the Mississippi State Revenue Department. Rather worryingly, that figure marks the worst monthly tally since May of 2011 when severe floods resulted in the temporary closure of a number of river casinos. Since reaching a peak in 2006, river casino revenues have subsequently fallen in every year but one, and considering the market’s woeful start to the year it’s possible that the losing streak is also set to continue into 2018.
Meanwhile, Mississippi’s 12 coastal casinos, too, posted a sharp decline in January, with earnings falling by 7% to $92 million.
The Magnolia State’s casino market continues to reflect an overall wider malaise in its overall finances, with Mississippi’s recovery following The Great Recession (2007–2013) one of the worst across the whole country. As a result, legislators are currently considering launching a state lottery in order to raise revenues, as well as prevent its residents from purchasing their lottery tickets in nearby states, such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee.
One of the factors standing in the way of legislation has been opposition from religious groups, but as financial matters deteriorate there are increasing signs that lawmakers may be prepared to view a state lottery as a ‘necessary evil’. Attorney General Jim Hood, for instance, commented at the end of last year that despite being a Baptist he recognized that potential lottery revenues could be used to fund essential projects, including education. Echoing the sentiment, Rep. Mark Baker explained:
“If that money is going to go to educate children and it’s going to go to fix roads and bridges, then it ought to be in Mississippi. I’m just being a realist about it.”
The Mississippi Department of Transportation recently requested around $300-$400 million in order to fund long-term construction and improvement programs, with lottery supporters suggesting that the gambling product’s legalization could produce up to $100 million per annum for state coffers.

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