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Casinos Relationship With Mississippi Economy Is Complicated

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 Jan 2011 04:00pm | comments
Judith Phillips explains her report.

A four month study of Mississippi's Casino industry reveals a very mixed picture. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports how complicated it is to figure out gambling's true economic impact.

Casino gambling in Mississippi is a 2-point-4 billion industry. It also pays nearly 300-million in taxes and employs 25-thousand people. However, all those numbers are on the decline.

A study conducted by The Stennis Institute of Government shows the industry's impact on Mississippi's economy is complicated with both positives and negatives

The study's lead researcher Judith Phillips says the ripple effect of casino jobs isn’t always ideal.

"(Is if a job) At pawn shops, at pay day lending establishments or is a job that is being created like a police job, a maintenance job, a teaching job?" Phillips said.

Its also hard to weigh the cost of low-wage casino employees who use state support systems to make ends meet, or the impact of casinos in high poverty areas.

While the report portrays a mixed bag, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission Larry Gregory says the gaming industry's economic contributions outweigh the hidden costs.

"So you have got to look at the whole gamut that this industry provides with 25,000 jobs and most of this tax revenue is coming from the outside from people visiting our state," Gregory said.

Mississippi gets much less in taxes from the industry compared to other states but a tax hike is not in the near future says the Chairman of the House Gaming Committee Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto.

"I just don't see the political will to move into any other direction then we are right now," Moak said.

Most other states that allow commercial gambling do have higher tax rates on casinos but they also use other tricks like admission fees and allowing gambling at race tracks to increase tax revenue.

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Judith Phillips explains her report.


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