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Mississippi casino revenue rises as sports betting begins

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Mississippi casino revenue rises as sports betting begins

Overall casino revenue rose sharply in Mississippi in August with the start of sports betting in the state.

State revenue department figures released Thursday show gamblers lost $181 million statewide in August, up 8 percent from $168 million in August 2017.

Only $645,000 of the amount lost was on sports wagers, though, with $7.7 million in bets placed in the first month of sports wagering in Mississippi.

Casino executives and regulators hope the lure of sports betting will mean more money lost on other casino games and more gamblers staying in casino hotels and eating in restaurants. After September is over, Mississippi Gaming Commission Deputy Director Jay McDaniel said the commission plans analyze whether sports betting is creating increases in other revenue, and by how much.

The figures for September will be bigger, as football season gets into full swing. McDaniel said that through Sept. 19, bettors wagered $17.8 million, suggesting the total will be between $25 million and $30 million for the month. Over the long term, Jacobs said officials expect casinos to win 6 percent to 7 percent of what is wagered.

A May U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed states nationwide to join Nevada in legalizing sports betting. Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey and West Virginia all now allow betting.

The state collects an 8 percent tax on revenue, including casino winnings from sports betting. That was good for about $52,000 in August. Local governments collect a 4 percent tax. State lawmakers recently earmarked revenue from sports betting to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. But tax revenue is unlikely to amount to more than a few million dollars a year.

Overall, revenue rose 10 percent to $108 million at the 12 coastal casinos, up 10 percent from August 2017. At the 16 river casinos, revenue rose $73 million, up 4 percent from last year.

The strong month tipped Mississippi's casino revenue into positive territory for the past 12 months, leaving the state with a gain of less than 1 percent.

Numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don't report winnings to the state.

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