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Fueled by record revenue from their sportsbooks, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast casinos posted their second-highest month ever in March.
Sports bettors were lured to the state’s casinos by their first-ever opportunity to bet on the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“(The casinos) saw really good numbers associated with March Madness,” said Jay McDaniel, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
When bets were totaled for March, bookmakers clocked the figure at $8.4 million in wagers for the month.
When McDaniel was asked for the reason of the increase he said, “We figure that it’s got to be sports betting.”
The sports betting haul added to already spectacular revenue figures for the state’s Gulf Coast casinos.
Recently released figures show that the 12 coastal casinos brought in over $124 million, a 13% increase from February of this year.
The 12 casinos are certainly seeing a trickle-down effect to revenue brought in by sports gambling increasing the margins on other casino areas such as rooms and restaurants.
“Sports betting is certainly contributing the most to our increased revenue, but it is hard to put actual numbers on the non-gaming components,” Chett Harrison, said general manager of Golden Nugget Biloxi casino.
“We do know that with those who are sports betting are staying the night, gambling, and eating at our hotel and casino.”
Gamblers lost over $212 million collectively in the state in March, $11 million more than in March of 2018.
But the increases in revenue of the coastal casinos did not extend to the river casinos located on the Mississippi River.
River casinos saw their revenue fall by 4.3% in March to roughly $88 million in total receipts.
The news of a negative bottom line for the river locations comes on the heels of seven straight months of the 15 casino group showing slight increases in their revenue.
Casinos along the river continue to struggle as Caesars Entertainment recently closed the Tunica Roadhouse in Tunica County.
Penn National Gaming followed that announcement with a closure of their own, announcing that Resorts Casino Tunica will cease operations on June 30th.
The local economy in Tunica is bracing for the second casino closure in less than six months, as the town depends on tourism to the casinos, especially for the city’s tax revenues.
Two major factors are threatening the bottom line of casinos in Mississippi.
Arkansas voters recently approved a measure that will allow four new casinos to be built in the state this year.
Louisiana is reaching the goal line on a bill that will give parishes the power to approve casino and mobile sports betting in their territories. The measure could be on the ballot in November.
The second thing that is holding back growth is the lack of an online app that residents and tourists could use to place online sports bets from anywhere in the state.
Attempts to push through a bill to legalize online gambling in Mississippi failed to make it out of committee during January’s legislative session.
But even with the solid figures for the coastal casinos, the state saw dips in the river casinos, causing concern that impending competition and a lack of online gambling options could ultimately derail the state’s gaming economy.
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