ST. LOUIS (AP) — The economic downturn is hurting the nation’s gambling hot spots, but the Missouri casino industry is more than holding its own, state Gaming Commission executive director Gene McNary said Thursday.
Five Missouri casinos took in less money in November than they did a year earlier, according to figures released by the Gaming Commission. But five others had higher revenue. One broke even and one, Lumiere Place in St. Louis, had no point of comparison because it opened in December 2007.
In fact, McNary said the addition of Lumiere Place has strengthened the St. Louis market well beyond expectations.
“Missouri casinos in the St. Louis metro area, year over year, are up 24 percent,” McNary said. “Lumiere Place didn’t cannibalize the other casinos as much as was feared and added to the pie.
“I think that’s significant, especially during an economic downturn.”
Other regions around the country aren’t so lucky. Nevada casinos had a record slump of 22.3 percent in October, according to figures released on Wednesday. In Atlantic City, N.J., casinos had a 7.8 percent revenue decline in November.
Those casinos rely on gamblers from around the country. Missouri casinos are regional attractions, McNary said. He projected that 70 percent of Missouri casino gamblers are senior citizens, many on fixed incomes.
“Even during an economic downturn they’re going to have money to spend on entertainment, because the fixed income is still coming in,” McNary said.
Missouri casinos are also likely getting a boost by voter approval on Nov. 4 of Proposition A, which eliminated the state’s $500 loss limit. But the full extent of that boost isn’t yet known.