Casino profits fall locally, across state and in Louisiana

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 24, 2010

From staff and AP reports

Mississippi’s state-licensed casinos reported January revenues of $193.2 million, up about $8.3 million from December — but down $24.6 million compared to January 2009, a 16 percent decrease.

Across the river, Louisiana’s state-licensed casinos also took a big hit from the struggling economy in January, as winnings from gamblers decreased 14.6 percent from January 2009.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Gaming tax revenue benefiting Vicksburg, Warren County and the local school district from Vicksburg’s five casinos also saw a dip in January compared to the same reporting period last year, though not as drastic as at the state level.

Locally, a 3.2 percent gaming revenue tax is divided among the city, county and public schools on a 65-25-10 percentage basis and a state-set .8 percent revenue tax is divided between the city and county by population. January revenues from the 3.2 percent tax netted $611,848, down $21,028 from a year ago, or 3.3 percent.

Four months into the 2010 fiscal year, local gaming tax revenues are down 6.7 percent overall, or $169,859, compared to 2009. Gaming tax revenues in Vicksburg were flat in fiscal year 2009 compared to the year previous, down a slight .07 percent. Revenues were down 3.8 percent in fiscal year 2008 compared to 2007. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The revenue tax provides almost a third of the city’s total tax income.

Casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast won $91.2 million from customers in January, down $5 million from a year ago. Casinos along the Mississippi River — including Tunica, Greenville, Lula, Vicksburg and Natchez — won $101.9 million in December, down $19 million from a year ago.

Louisiana’s 13 riverboat casinos won $131.2 million last month, down from $153.2 million the previous January. Harrah’s in New Orleans saw winnings fall to $27 million from $31.3 million in January 2009. The four racetrack casinos took in $31.5 million last month, a drop of $6.1 million.

The latest Louisiana monthly total — $189.7 million — is a sharp reversal from a year ago, when the casinos won $222.2 million. However, it is an 11 percent gain over January 2008, even as other major gambling states were struggling with declining revenue. At that time, analysts said Louisiana was able to take advantage of regional and local markets with players close at hand — and the deepening recession had not hit the state full throttle yet.

But after year-to-year figures began dropping off by double digits later in the year, the effect of tight discretionary dollars and less travel began showing up in the Louisiana reports, putting the state in the same situation with other casino states.

For example, in neighboring Mississippi, casinos recorded an 11.3 percent fall in gambling revenue in the January-to January comparison. New Jersey casinos fell 8.5 percent.

In a report that fully showed the problems in Nevada, that state’s major casinos recorded a net loss — covering all forms of revenue — of $6.8 billion for the 2009 fiscal year, two years after recording a record net income of $2.7 billion, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. No such report is compiled for Mississippi or Louisiana.

Mississippi casinos also pay property taxes and collect sales, tourism and bed taxes. Vicksburg imposes an annual $150 per gaming position fee.

Since 1990, when the Legislature authorized casino development in river and coastal counties, subject to local veto, the state has collected $4.6 billion in revenue taxes.