The weather cleared and Coast casinos posted a strong 8 percent increase in gross casino revenue in November after being down 5 percent in October, when Hurricane Harvey closed the casinos during one of the busiest weekends of the year.
With one month left in 2017, that pulls the combined Coast casino revenue to within $2.9 million of last year’s total over the same time. It’s the second best pace — following last year — for casino revenue on the Coast since 2008, when the national recession hit.
The Mississippi Department of Revenue reported Wednesday the 12 Coast casinos combined for $95.1 million in gross casino revenue in November, an 8 percent increase over $87.9 million in November 2016.
Mississippi’s river casinos saw a 2 percent drop in revenue to $65.8 million from $67.0 million a year ago. That put Mississippi’s gross casino revenue for November up 4 percent to $160.9 million from $154.9 million a year ago.
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The 2017 casino revenue has already topped $1 billion on the Coast with a month to go, and Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, said the mood in the industry in South Mississippi is optimistic.
“Looking over our shoulder from last year, I’d say we’re pleased with the market,” he said. Coast casino operators reinvested in their properties and gave them a fresh look, he said.
“They offer more for visitors and tourists,” he said.
“On the flip side, we just live in a world where we’ve got more competition now,” Gregory said. The casino industry in Mississippi is just not going to see the big increases in revenue year over year as in the past, he said, and will have to adjust to that.
He expects to see meetings and reports coming out next year on ways Tunica can come up with new offerings to get that market rolling, he said.
December traditionally provides a fairly strong end to the year for Coast casinos as customers flood in after Christmas to ring in the New Year at the casinos.
The industry heads into 2018, like casino executives across the country, watching to see if the U.S. Supreme Court will find the ban against sports betting unconstitutional. That could quickly boost casino revenue in Mississippi if the ban is dropped and people legally can bet on their favorite teams.
A report on possibly legalizing the lottery in Mississippi also is due out within the next month.
Source: Mississippi Department of Revenue, Gaming Commission