2016 looks to be a quiet year for gaming in Mississippi, with no major projects currently on the horizon. But as MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the industry is watching closely what’s happening in other states.
20-15 was hopping on the coast, with a new casino and several additions to current properties. That helped pump Coast gaming revenues up 6 percent so far this year. State Gaming Commission director Allen Godfrey says there are no major 2016 projects on his desk, but he thinks it'll still be a good year.
“I think the Gulf Coast has positioned itself well to continue their upward climb and see increasing revenue,” he says.
In the central river region, which includes Natchez and Vicksburg, gaming revenues are up 1 percent, and Godfrey says that region is likely to stay on track.
The Tunica region has experienced the worst declines, but “I feel like we have hit that bottom, so to speak," Godfrey says, "and I think we’re going to maintain some type of a steady revenue stream that we’re experiencing now, and I would love to see some improvement in that area."
House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett says the biggest threat now to Mississippi casinos is competition from other states. He says, there's been good news out of Florida, where a new tribal gaming pact does not include rights for the Panhandle area that's closest to Mississippi. He says, Alabama seems to have slowed its gaming push, but Georgia’s may be picking up steam.
"So it could affect us, but we've done a good job with our product here, and I think the regulations we put in place in Mississippi, of having to have amenities, a hotel and all, has worked good for us, and we're going to continue to be strong here on the coast," he says. "We'll continue to have problems in Tunica, but we'll be strong here."
Overall Mississippi casino revenues are expected to end the year up about 1 or 2 percent.