Originally posted in Gaming floor August 1999
Rolling on the River
A look at the April gaming stats for Mississippi

    If ever an example were needed of how casino gaming has exploded onto the scene of 1990's America then the state of Mississippi provides the perfect example.
    At the start of the decade there were no legal casinos. As we approach the end, Mississippi now has 29 with an average gross win per month of $200 million. The internal area of the gaming facilities amounts to 1.5 million square feet, or in more understandable terms, roughly the size of 24 soccer pitches.
    The casinos come under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and it is from the detailed statistics at their website that form the backbone of this article. Taxes on gaming win are payable to the Mississippi State Tax Commission and they also give details as to the total win figures achieved by the properties for the month.

    For convenience the State Commission divides the State into 3 distinct geographical locations. These are the North River(10 casinos), South River(7) & Coastal regions(12).
The number of tables in each area being 588, 652 and 177 respectively. The South River has more smaller properties and this is reflected in the tables & slots win being considerably less than the other two areas.

    The total amount of slots for the 29 casinos amounts to 37,937 and tables 1,431. A ratio of 25 to 1, which gives a gaming positions ratio of just over 3 to 1. In the month of April, of the $217 million gross win some 80% was derived from the slots and only 20% from table games. The number of employees totals over 38,000. The number involved directly in gaming activities though is not stated.

    The largest properties (by area) are the Grand Casino, Biloxi (Coastal) and the Grand Casino, Tunica (North). The two combined have a total of 5,700 slots and 240 tables. The Beau Rivage that opened in March 1999 has almost 2,000 slots & 99 tables, but has the highest number of employees at 4,744.

Give them what they want.

   In the list of table games there are a surprising 17 games listed and that includes Blackjack & its various versions as 1 game. There are to be found in the Pits throughout the state 865 Blackjack tables amounting to 60% of the total. Craps has 147(10%). AR, all presumably double zero, 87 (6%). CSP has 49(3.5%). Three Card Poker a variation of the British game of Brag, 46 tables(3.2%).
    Some games are pretty much dead in the water and include; Sic Bo(0), Casino War(3), Chuck-a-Luck(0), Bayou Bournee(0) and the age old game of Faro(0).

    The slot areas also have a wide number of permitted denominations. All the way from a nickel to $500. The later has 4 examples, no doubt all eagerly awaiting players. The stats do however not mention the win from them.
    As one would expect the quarter and dollar slots are the most numerous and  amount to 42% and 24% respectively. The nickel machines are number 19% over half of which are found in the coastal region. $5 slots make up 3% or 1251 in total.

What's the Hold?

    For the table games the April figures for most casino management would be quite satisfactory. BJ hold varying form 15% North River to 21% in the South River region. The lowest craps hold is 16%. AR made 28% in the North River but Mini Baccarat only 9%. CSP which in the Coastal and North River regions made 29% actually lost in the South River- some naughtiness or did the jackpot go?.
    Just as important are the monthly hold figures for each table. The coastal region making more that the other regions at $27,000 per Blackjack & $81,000 per Craps table. They are also ahead in Mini Baccarat, producing $64,000 per table. Three card poker producing $37,000 per table in the Coastal and North River regions.

    For the slots the hold percentage stays pretty much true to the notion that the higher the denomination the greater the pay back. $25  and $10  machines holding between 3 & 4%. The bread and butter $1 & quarter slots holding around 5% and 7% respectively.
    The average quarter slot producing around $3,000 per month. $1 machines making between $4 & $5,000. The 32 $100 slots in the Coastal region made $42,000 per machine. This could have been because of heavy action at the newly opened Rivage that has 8 of them.

   Total slot revenue for the  month of April was over $175 million or just over $150 per machine per day.

The only way is up!

    For the first five months of the year gross revenue is over $1 billion up from $900 million in 1998. In 1993 the first full year of results revenue was $790 million for 12 months.
    So it would seem that with new openings revenues are set to grow further. Looking at the list of owners of the properties, almost all of the big names of gaming are to be found in Mississippi. The American love affair with the casino despite the significant downside of "problem gambling" has certainly blossomed.
    It is strange though that outside the States the notion that for casinos you must either go to Vegas or Atlantic City still rings true. But, I feel sure the casino marketing departments in Mississippi indeed know that already.
 Ian Sutton
PS. If anyone knows the rules or has a photo of Bayou Bournee in full flow, please send them on. A list of operating casinos + maps can be found at http://www.mississippicasinos.com