Sid Salter: Online gaming is more bad news for state casinos

STARKVILLE — With Mississippi’s gaming revenues declining — particularly in the Tunica/Mississippi River markets — the potential national impact of online gaming is a particularly relevant topic of public policy debate.

In June, the Mississippi Gaming Commission reported numbers showing that in 22 of the last 24 months, casinos have won less money from gamblers compared to the same month of the previous year. In figures showing May 2014 compared with May 2013, casinos took in some $20 million less statewide or 10.6 percent less in 2014.

The June closure of Harrah’s in the Tunica market underscores the loss of both gaming revenue and jobs as increased competition from two Arkansas racetracks have been blamed for straining the market. But Mississippi isn’t alone in seeing gaming revenues dip. Louisiana gaming revenues have flat.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming market has been stronger than the river market, but competition from Alabama Native American gaming outlets have had an impact, analysts suggest.

But one aspect of gaming in which there is less known about competitive impact in Mississippi is online gaming. Mississippi, as of the 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislature, is now officially studying online gaming.

Clarion Ledger