State numbers down; Isle feels strong

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

NATCHEZ — While numbers have been down for casinos across the state, gaming officials said they have no cause for worry.

According to the Mississippi State Tax Commission, statewide numbers slacked off in September, totaling at $192 million, down almost $46 million from September 2007.

The numbers climbed back up in October, reaching $211 million, but that’s still a $6 million decrease from the previous year.

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Vice President and General Manager of the Isle of Capri in Natchez Tony Scudiero said Natchez is nestled away from the sweeping effects of the nation.

“The most amazing thing about Natchez, from what I’ve seen in the years I’ve lived here, is it’s not affected really on what goes on outside of Natchez,” he said. “To me, Natchez is really strong as a whole.”

He said by looking at his business and other businesses, things don’t seem to be in upheaval along with the economy.

“Everything has been pretty steady,” he said.

And as far as the revenue fluctuations seen by casinos, Scudiero said that’s common.

“When you look at the year, whether it be a calendar year or fiscal year, there are always going to be fluctuations. We all know summertime is pretty good, then you get close to the holidays and it dips off, and then you have the first of the year with the income tax rebate and people are just ready to bust out of that wintry attitude and think, new year, new change,” he said.

“The fluctuations are almost predictable.”

Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Allen Godfrey said part of the reason revenue fell in September was due to Hurricane Gustav and the closure of casinos.

But the current state of the economy is not affecting the numbers, he said.

Godfrey said Mississippi is not feeling quite the same brunt as other gaming jurisdictions.

“We’re not online quite equal to last year, but we’re not going to be as far off as other jurisdictions are,” he said.

For example, he said Las Vegas is down by 9 or 10 percent, whereas Mississippi isn’t even down 5 percent.