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Mississippi Casinos Holding Steady Despite String of Challenges

By Rhonda Miller | Published 04 May 2011 04:13pm | comments
The Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi drew 3,000 people.

Casinos in the Delta region are shutting down because of floods while Gulf Coast casinos are in a fragile upswing. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports leaders at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi say, in spite of all the challenges, the casino industry in Mississippi is holding steady.

The exhibit hall has all the new gaming machines with lights and bells and whistles. But the casino industry is serious business for 3,000 people at the conference.

After being hit by Hurricane Katrina, the recession and the oil spill, the casino industry is finally stabilizing.

"We’re maintaining to about a $2.5 billion industry now, but we are beginning to see signs of development. We approved the first development in a while here on the Back Bay in Biloxi with Jimmy Buffet and Margaretville, that we’re very proud of, and we’re talking to new developers all the time," said Larry Gregory, Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Then there are the floods shutting down casinos in the Delta region. Gregory says monthly revenues from those casinos are important to the state.

"Just in the Tunica area about $10 million in tax revenue, and then of course we had the other tax revenue coming from Vicksburg and Greenville and that will be sorely missed during these times," Gregory said.

While the Delta casinos make plans to re-open as soon as the floodwaters recede, Gulf Coast casinos are making plans to grow. Jeff Cooper, Treasurer for the IP Casino, has some suggestions.

"We need a greater room inventory, number two we need non-gaming attractions, reasons to come," Cooper said.
And with many Mississippi tourists arriving by car, casino operators are carefully watching the price of gas. Some said they’re likely to offer gas cards along with hotel rooms.

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The Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi drew 3,000 people.


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