Biloxi gaming figures show sharp decline

The Biloxi casino resort industry reported gaming revenue of $91.5 million in June 2008, the largest June on record and one of the largest months in Biloxi history. With figures on the decline over the past several months, Mayor A.J. Holloway knew the numbers from June of this year weren’t going to be a pretty comparison.

And he was right.

Gaming revenue figures in Biloxi were $64.6 million last month, the lowest June in seven years and a drop of 30 percent from last year’s monster June. The figure also was an 11 percent drop from May.

In fact, Holloway says, the city’s monthly gaming revenue figures have failed to outpace the same month from the previous year for the past 12 months.

“Overall,” the mayor said, “we’re 12.63 percent off on gaming revenue since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and 7.2 percent off sales tax revenue. That comes to about $2 million in revenue we’re having to do without.”

The reason for the revenue slide is simple, Holloway said: “It’s the economy, no doubt about it. People I speak to in the industry tell me that the numbers of visitors are off slightly, but the amount of money those visitors are spending is off considerably more. People don’t have the discretionary income right now. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Biloxi has a host of regional and national gatherings in town this month, and it’s a good thing, the mayor said, particularly since gaming and sales tax revenues fund about two-thirds of the city’s operating budget.

The Mississippi Municipal League – ordinarily the city’s largest convention each year with more than 2,000 delegates – wrapped up its three-day stay on Wednesday, and Gov. Haley Barbour is hosting the National Governors Association convention in Biloxi this weekend, when as many as 2,000 delegates and guests are expected to be in town, according to estimates from tourism leaders.

The Mississippi Insurance Commission continues a two-day, multi-state insurance forum today in Biloxi, with nearly 250 convention delegates and guests, and about 75 planners from throughout Mississippi are in town for the Mississippi chapter of the American Planning Association summer conference.

“We’re blessed to have so many visitors in town at this particular time,” Holloway said. “Our economy – the local restaurants, shops and other small businesses – can certainly use the boost, and I’m confident our visitors will have a great time. Let’s hope that the ‘great time’ translates into revenue.”

Online figures, calendar month: To see the calendar month gaming revenue figures tracked by the city, click here.

Online figures, monthly collections: To see a report that shows how the gaming money is divvied up among state and local agencies, a report whose numbers are based on the monthly check the city receives from the Mississippi Tax Commission, click here.