Mississippi casinos

Mississippi’s 29 state-regulated casinos had their best June ever, and one casino executive said it’s due to gamblers now having more confidence in the economy.

“People have more disposable income now,” said Rick Quinn, general manager of Copa Casino in Gulfport. “Overall, our business has been very good.”

Mississippi casinos reported $231.4 million in gross revenues in June, and Coast casinos reported a 15 percent jump in winnings over the same period last year.

Quinn said business at the Copa has increased “dramatically” over the past year, but would not elaborate. The Copa, which moved into a new barge about 10 months ago, is the only locally owned, privately held casino on the Coast.

The Coast’s 12 casinos had $99.7 million in winnings last month. For the first six months of the year, Coast casino revenues were $596.6 million, a 2.6 percent increase over the first half of June 2002.

“Those numbers are very strong for the Coast,” said Andy Bourland, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Mississippi River casinos won $131.7 million in June, bringing their 2003 total to $778.8 million. That revenue is a 3.2 percent drop from the $805.3 million reported through June 2002. Overall, state casinos reported winning $1.37 billion through June 30, compared to $1.38 billion during the same period in 2002.

Bourland said he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the June earnings reports, when compared to the yearly figures.

“This breaks a string of negative growth,” he said. “But companies are still spending unprecedented amounts of money on marketing, advertising and other promotional expenses. That spending isn’t reflected in the gross revenue reports.”

But some casino officials are more optimistic. Last week, officials with MGM Mirage, the parent company of Beau Rivage, announced during a conference call that Las Vegas business had stabilized in June and was showing signs of improvement.

There should be more good news for Coast casinos in mid-August, when July revenue figures are released. July is traditionally the strongest month of the year for Coast casinos and the Independence Day weekend was three days this year.

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