Holloway talks gaming with legislators

Mayor A.J. Holloway today told the state House Gaming Committee that casino revenue in Biloxi is about 5 percent down from this time last year and that sales tax revenue is about 18 percent off last year.

Holloway made the remarks during a meeting of the Gaming Committee this morning at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, the same day the city reported gaming revenues of $72.9 million for November, slightly above October but 9 percent off November 2007.

Gaming Committee Chair Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto asked Holloway about revenue forecasts during a meeting when committee members also heard comments on proposals to ban smoking in casinos and provide incentives for new tourism projects.

The mayor addressed the state of gaming in Biloxi as well as a forecast for 2009 in a column scheduled to be published in January in a national gaming magazine. To read his comments, click here.

To see the latest gaming revenue figures for Biloxi, click here.

Were those September numbers really that bad?

When the casino gaming revenue numbers for September were released, some observers said the 24 percent drop – the lowest revenue in more than two years – could be attributed to the slowdown in the national economy just as much as Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Not necessarily so, says Pete Burns, IP’s vice president for finance and administration who traces his Biloxi gaming career to his days as general manager of the old Biloxi Belle Casino Resort.

“It’s not quite as easy as just saying it is the economy and the two hurricanes. All of those, of course, had an impact but it’s also the calendar. In ’07, Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend fell in September, helping to push up the September numbers. Whereas in ’08, even without the closing due to Gustav, only Monday of the weekend fell in September.”

And, Burns pointed out, the procedures associated with the Sept. 1 closings pushed revenue from September into August.

“When a casino is ordered closed because of a hurricane, a complete ‘drop’ of the floor is performed, pulling revenue that otherwise might not be pulled until several days later. Thus,” Burns said, “when the casinos were ordered closed on Saturday night the 30th, some revenue that would otherwise have been recorded in September was pulled forward into August.

“The overall picture made September ’08 look weak compared to September ’07, while August ’08 looked fairly healthy or stable vs. August ’07. If you look at August, September and October combined, compared to the same months of ’07, you get a little clearer picture of the true situation, which by the way, is much better than Las Vegas or Atlantic City fared.”