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Some Lawmakers Believe Tax Breaks Could Help Mississippi Gaming Industry

By Paul Boger | Published 27 Mar 2014 07:16pm | comments
Starting in June, nearly 13-hundred workers at the Harrah's Tunica Casino will lose their jobs when the facility closes it's doors permanently. As MPB's Paul Boger reports some Mississippi lawmakers believe the state should use tax breaks and incentives to help keep the struggling gaming industry afloat.
Revenue at Mississippi casinos has been down 18 of the last 20 months. In the Tunica area specifically, revenue has dropped by more than 25 percent since 2008. That's why it comes at no surprise that earlier this week, the Harrah's Tunica casino decided to permanently shutdown it's operations starting in June.
Webster Franklin is the President of the Tunica County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Any time a company in Mississippi announces that they are going to lay off 1,300 people -- which represents $40 million in annual pay roll -- it's a blow not only to the local economy but to the state economy." said Franklin.
One proposal aimed at helping the state's gaming industry is to create tax breaks and incentives for casinos. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto is the House minority leader. 
"What we have to do, is we have to put them in the same business model as other industries in the state, and that's with tax incentives, with tax credits." said Moak. "That allows them to renovate hotels, to build infrastructure, to build amenities in order to bring people in. That helps there bottom line, and helps the bottom line of the state of Mississippi."
Representative Andy Gipson of Braxton is a Baptist Minister and member of the Ways and Means Committee. He says the loss of 13-hundred jobs at least warrants a look at the issue.
"Personally, I am opposed to gambling." said Gipson. "I think it has adverse consequences on families, but it does trouble me to learn that this major casino in Tunica is going to close and cost 1,300 people their jobs." said Gipson. "That affects families, and that hurts. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I am open to studying this, 'cause that's a lot of jobs."
When pressed for comment Governor Phil Bryant says does not think the state will take any more action to prop up the casino industry.




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