Year after flood, river casinos’ revenue jumps

Published 12:09 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

Revenue for Mississippi casinos dropped nearly $2 million in May from April, while revenue-based taxes statewide and in Vicksburg were up for the month.

Casinos took in $185.3 million in May, compared to $187 million in April, according to figures from the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The total is still 26 percent higher than last May, when some casinos on the Mississippi River were forced to close due to flooding.

In May, the coastal casinos took in $90 million, about $3 million less than April. The river casinos, from Tunica to Natchez, collected $94.3 million, a tad higher than the $93.7 million in April.

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The river casinos increased winnings to $94.3 million from $40.9 million in May 2011, but were below May 2010 revenue of $107.8 million. Statewide, revenue from the state’s 31 casinos was down three out of five months this year. Without the flooding to burden the river casinos, Mississippi is ahead of last year at this time by $47 million.

For the 2012 calendar year, casinos’ winnings total $984 million.

Taxes transferred to local governments in the state reached $8.1 million in May, nearly $1 million more than April. Vicksburg’s five casinos sent 35 percent more money to the city during the month, $542,976 versus $454,821 in April. Warren County took in $265,174, or $43,118 more than in April. The Vicksburg Warren School District took in $70,402 in May and is ahead of last year’s pace by $810,097.

Locally, casinos pay 3.2 percent revenue tax to the state that is divided into pieces, with 65 percent to the city, 25 percent to the county and 10 percent to public schools. A second revenue tax is a 0.8 percent share of the state’s 8.8 percent revenue tax and is determined based on the population split between the city and county. Warren County’s share of the latter has increased this year due to 2010 census figures that showed more people living outside the city compared to 10 years ago.

On the coast, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino was open 10 days in May but made little difference on revenue figures from the coastal casinos. The 12 casinos winnings in May were $5 million, or 5 percent, less than a year ago.

The MDOR figures continue to show a slow start to the year. Coast casino revenue was up in February, March and April compared with this time a year ago. Despite the dip in May, coast casinos remain ahead of 2011’s winnings at this point by about $500,000.

The gross revenue and tax numbers don’t include Choctaw Indian casinos, which are not required to report their winnings to the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.