December was strong for the Coast casinos and pushed 2016 revenues to their highest levels since 2008.
Mississippi Department of Revenue reported Thursday that the 12 Coast casinos reported $92.4 million in gross casino revenue in December, a 2 percent increase from a year ago.
Annual revenue last year was $1.19 billion, a 34 percent increase and the third year in a row revenue has trended up on the Coast
“That's very positive for the industry and very positive for those involved in it,” said Allen Godfrey, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
The river casinos were down 2 percent for the year, but the state finished 2016 with $2.1 billion in gross casino revenue, up 1 percent from 2015.
The Coast casinos had their best year in 2007, when government workers and thousands of volunteers were in South Mississippi to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery and pushed casino revenue to $1.3 billion. That topped the pre-Katrina level in 2004 of $1.2 billion.
Much has changed since then. The Mississippi River casinos collectively had higher casino revenue than the Coast for years — until competition began eroding those numbers. Revenue at the river casinos has fallen from a high of $1.66 billion in 2006, when many of the Coast casinos were still closed after Katrina, to under $1 billion in 10 years. Coast numbers have surpassed the river casinos for the past three years.
What’s coming next to South Mississippi could be more players in the game, with Georgia Florida lawmakers talking of legalizing casinos and Florida legislators looking to expand casinos.
“I think it’s just a matter of time. Competition is coming,” Godfrey said.
The effect to the Coast casinos is yet to be determined, but in December, 5 percent of the visitors to Coast casinos came from Georgia and 13 percent from Florida.
Godfrey said if casinos want to draw people people away from the new competition, “You’ve got to do it with something other than a slot machine.” The Coast will need amenities, he said.
Source: Mississippi Department of Revenue, Gaming Commission
Coast casinos by the numbers, Dec. 2016
9.267 — Employees
14,282 — Slot machines
464 — Table games
6,612 — Hotel rooms
1,137,018 — Patrons
$30M — Payroll
107 — Conferences
7,837 — Conference attendees
12,645 — Ticketed concert/show attendees
Mississippi Gaming Commission