A new study says the gaming industry has a $4 billion dollar economic impact in Mississippi. MPB’s Evelina Burnett takes a look at what’s in the cards for 2015.
Mississippi casino revenues have fallen about 25 percent over the past decade, but the gaming industry still had a $4.1 billion economic impact in 2013. And after several years of declines, gaming on the Gulf Coast seems to be ticking, slightly, upward.
Allen Godfrey, director of the state Gaming Commission, says 2014 also saw significant reinvestment on the coast.
"Starting from one end of the coast to the other," he says. "We've got hotel towers being renovated, being built, being added on to. We had the Golden Nugget's opening, which was really a complete renovation. I think it's just a statement that Mississippi gaming is not what it used to be, but we're still a very strong market."
Susan Varnes is this year's chair of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association and president of Treasure Bay casino in Biloxi. She says there are also some major projects on the horizon, including new hotels at the Island View in Gulfport and Silver Slipper in Waveland.
"You've got Scarlet Pearl broken ground in D'Iberville, the baseball stadium should be open next year," she says. "It's really exciting to be part of all this. In spite of the downturn in revenue over the last couple of years, now you're seeing an upturn and I think it's because of the investments that are being made by the gaming industry."
A new study commissioned by the American Gaming Association, which estimated the economic impact, also found the industry supported 37,000 direct and indirect jobs. That’s 1 out of every 30 jobs in the state.