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Non-Native Casinos post strong February rebound

Mississippi’s state-licensed casinos showed post-recession life last month while posting a strong rebound in money won from players, the State Tax Commission reported March 19.

Gamblers left behind $222.3 million in February, up 15 percent from $192.3 million in January. The state’s casinos also managed a 3.6 percent increase from the $216.5 million won in February 2009, the first such comparative gain since the economic meltdown in the fall of 2008.

Casinos along the Mississippi River, including Tunica County, Vicksburg and Natchez, enjoyed a 24.9 percent jump in revenue from January to February, taking in $126.6 million last month. Casinos along the Mississippi coast, which have recently been facing more competition from Florida tribal casinos, posted a 5.9 percent gain, winning $95.8 million.

The boost for Mississippi exceeded that of neighboring Louisiana, where state-licensed casinos won 10 percent more in February than in January, but still were down 6 percent from February 2009.

Allen Godfrey, deputy director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said February has historically been a strong month for the casinos, perhaps in part because people are starting to get tax refunds.

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However, Godfrey noted that Louisiana and other casino states have recorded recent revenue gains that could indicate the business is shaking its downturn.

“It’s a good development and we hope it continues,” he said.

Tax revenue for February totaled $21.5 million, bringing the state’s fiscal year total to $182 million. At the same stage of the last fiscal year, $202.2 million had been taken in.

The figures do not include Indian reservation casinos, which are not required to report their winnings to the public.

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