"Time will tell as to whether that’s the case, but it’s a very nice product offering," Godfrey says. "I walked the place the other day,and it’s a very pretty gaming floor, it’s got nice new equipment, the hotel rooms are very impressive. I think it’s going to be a nice addition to the market.”
One Biloxi casino, Margaritaville, closed last year, but the gaming commission now requires casinos to have amenities that will, it hopes, lure in new visitors and expand the market, not just siphon off current players. The Scarlet Pearl's amenities include 300 hotel rooms, 3 restaurants and a 36-hole mini-golf course.
"It’s not about just slot machines any more, it’s about the experience," Godfrey says.
Susan Varnes is chair of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association and president of Treasure Bay Casino in Biloxi. She attributes the coast's gaming revenue growth to investments by new and existing casinos.
"A couple of years ago, Golden Nugget came, you had Hard Rock put their second tower in," she says. "This year, you had Island View. It’s just constant reinvestment and trying to promote tourism.”
With gaming in other parts of the state still struggling, casino revenues overall are up about 1 percent to date this year.