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Mississippi Casino Revenues Down But Not From Oil Spill

By Rhonda Miller | Published 06 May 2011 04:30pm | comments
Larry Gregory, Executive Director, Mississippi Gaming Commission at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi

Casino revenues are down across Mississippi. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports they’re not blaming it on the oil spill.

The numbers for the first quarter of 2011 show Mississippi casino revenues down three percent from last year. Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission Larry Gregory said the challenges have been going on for years.

"You know, I think we have suffered more from Katrina and the economic downturn than the oil spill," Gregory said. "The oil spill was little bump in the road. I think we’ve recovered from that. We didn’t really suffer last year, so much. We had hotel rooms they were still gambling."

Kim Fritz is Interim Executive Director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association. Fritz said a glimmer of hope on the coast isn’t enough to get excited about.
"The first quarter gaming revenues here on the Gulf Coast were 1.1 percent gain. But we did lose in the river counties and to me that’s basically flat," Fritz said.

Mississippi casinos employ 25,000 people – about one-third of all the tourism jobs in the state. Mary Beth Wilkerson is Director of Tourism for the Mississippi Development Authority. She says, overall, tourism is showing signs of recovery.

"Statewide we’re seeing an uptick in the tourism industry, about 3 to 6 percent increase across the board for the industry. That's in visitor expenditures, general tax revenue that's coming in from the tourist industry." Wilkerson said.

But with floods causing casinos along the Mississippi River to shut down, Wilkerson said it’s going to take a while to know the impact of this latest disaster on tourism.

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Larry Gregory, Executive Director, Mississippi Gaming Commission at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi


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