Local casinos post increases in revenue for last month|[03/18/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Collections in Vicksburg and Warren County from the 3.2 percent tax on casino revenue here were the highest in February’s report since the October start of the fiscal year. A total of $740,161 was paid by area casinos, up from $614,207 in January.

Overall, a slight downward revenue trend appears to be continuing.

The tax is a slice of the money patrons leave at casinos. It is divided to give 10 percent to area schools, 25 percent to Warren County and 65 percent to the City of Vicksburg. The most recent split gave $74,016 to schools, $185,040 to the county and $481,105 to the city’s coffers for February.

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A second revenue tax also comes in the form of an .8 percent share of the state’s 8 percent revenue tax, and is split based on population proportions between Vicksburg and Warren County. From it, the city received an additional $97,645 in February and the county $87,750.

Periodically throughout the year, casinos also pay the city an annual device tax equalling $150 per gaming position. In January, $215,100 was paid to the city via the device tax, boosting its total tax revenue for the month to $695,230. Because no additional device tax was paid in February, revenue received by the city actually dropped from the month before. One of the four city casinos has paid its device tax this fiscal year.

Casinos also pay property taxes to local governments on their developments, including hotels and restaurants, and the city shares in sales taxes collected in their restaurants, gift shops and room rentals. The city’s tourism and bed taxes also apply to casino properties.

Since the beginning of the fiscal year,Vicksburg has collected roughly $2.8 million in casino revenue tax. Warren County received just less than $1.2 million, and area schools benefitted by roughly $325,000.

Through February of fiscal year 2007, the city had received about $2.96 million in total casino revenue tax, while the county collected roughly $1.2 million and area schools $334,000.

Since 1993, four casinos have operated in Vicksburg. Ameristar, the city’s largest, plans to finish a $98 million expansion in the coming months. DiamondJacks, formerly Isle of Capri, is also nearing completion on an $18.5 million renovation at its casinos in Vicksburg and Bossier City. Horizon Casino, formerly Harrah’s, is in the process of an announced sale to Houston-based Nevada Gold & Casinos Inc. A fifth casino in Vicksburg, Riverwalk Casino, plans to open in November.

February disbursementsSchools – $74,016County – $185,040City – $481,105