ST. LOUIS — The lagging economy isn't keeping people away from Missouri casinos.
The Missouri Gaming Commission reported Wednesday that revenue rose 4 percent at the state's casinos in July, compared to a year ago. Admissions also were up at seven of the 12 casinos.
Gaming Commission Executive Director Gene McNary said that for some people, gambling has become part of their daily routines.
"I think a large percentage of gamblers are senior citizens, and they set their own limits and budget an entertainment amount to spend," he said. "Gambling is their bright lights and toys — they consider it entertainment."
During an economic downturn, many gamblers prefer to remain close to home rather than traveling to places such as Las Vegas or Atlantic City, N.J., McNary said.
"We are regionally and centrally located and people found it less costly and more convenient to come to us," McNary said.
McNary also cited benefits from the repeal of the state's $500 loss limit after the November general election. That limitation had caused many gamblers to go to other states, where they would not be limited on the amount they could lose, he said.
The casino business has also picked up in St. Louis since Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment opened Lumiere Place downtown near the Mississippi River in December 2007.
Lumiere Place saw a 37 percent revenue increase in July compared to a year earlier. Pinnacle's other St. Louis property, the much smaller President Casino, saw revenue rise 44 percent. But that was largely due to the fact that the President was closed for 15 days in July 2008 because of flooding.
St. Jo Frontier Casino in the northwest Missouri town of St. Joseph saw a 6 percent increase; Argosy Casino in Kansas City had a 5 percent increase; Mark Twain Casino in northeast Missouri saw revenue rise 3 percent.
Isle of Capri casinos in Caruthersville and Boonville saw 3 percent increases and Harrah's in St. Louis County had a 2 percent increase.
But the Harrah's casino in northern Kansas City had a 2 percent drop. Both Ameristar casinos in the state also were down — 6 percent in Kansas City and 2 percent in St. Charles.