Jun 11, 2001 7:50 PM

Most tourists on the Mississippi Gulf Coast come to gamble, a new survey says.

According to the poll, which was commissioned by local tourism agencies, 55 percent of visitors listed gambling as the main purpose of their visit. Only 2 percent listed outside activities such as golf or tennis as the primary reason for visiting.

The survey describes the average visitor as a retiree who stays in a casino hotel, spends $600, gambles four hours a day and gets a discount on his or her room.

Of those visitors, 99 percent report themselves satisfied with their trip, with gambling losses listed as the most frequent reason for dissatisfaction.

Tourism officials paid $75,000 for the survey, which they want to conduct every year in an effort to attract more visitors and broaden the region’s tourism base.