River casino revenue drop drags down Miss. totals

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — While casinos along Mississippi's Gulf Coast continue to tread water, those along the Mississippi River continue to post steep revenue declines.

Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show casinos statewide won $164 million from gamblers in April, down 6 percent from April 2013.

The 12 coastal casinos won $84.5 million, down less than 1 percent from April 2013. The 18 river casinos won $79.8 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier. The month's results underline the growing split between Mississippi's two casino markets. Revenue along the Gulf has been rising a little bit since the end of summer 2013. But declines in the key Tunica market are steep and could intensify when Caesars Entertainment Corp. closes it Harrah's casino in Tunica on June 2.

Revenue statewide is down 3.6 percent over the last 12 months. In that period, Mississippi casinos have collected only about 74 percent of the revenue from the peak year of 2007. Overall revenue has fallen from the year earlier in 20 of the last 22 months.

The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren't required to report winnings to the state.

Industry leaders have said that along the Mississippi River, Tunica and Lula casinos have suffered in part from competition from expanding gambling at two racetracks in Arkansas. Some casinos have been seized by lenders, and the industry as a whole has been shedding workers.

Revenues in Arkansas rose almost seven-fold from 2007 to 2013, rising by more than 10 percent from the year earlier for 55 straight months. But that streak was broken in December, and Arkansas casino winnings rose 1.5 percent in April to $18.8 million after falling less than 1 percent in March.

In Louisiana, state-licensed casinos won $194.8 million in April. 0.8 percent less than a year earlier. Revenues were down slightly in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets, but rose in Shreveport-Bossier City and Lake Charles.

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