Biloxi, MS – Gaming tax revenue generated by Mississippi casinos is set to reach $6.5 billion by the industry’s 25th anniversary in 2017 – enough to fund the entire state budget for a single year – and legalized sports betting would allow casinos to generate even more revenue in the years to come, Biloxi casinos and the nation’s chief gaming industry advocate announced today. The $6.5 billion in gaming tax revenue does not include the billions of additional dollars contributed to state and local governments in the form of property, sales, payroll and other taxes. The first legal gaming establishments in Mississippi opened in 1992.
At IP Casino Resort in Biloxi this morning, leaders from the Gulf Coast business, political, non-profit and education communities joined gaming executives for a roundtable conversation to highlight the positive economic and community impact gaming has in Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, including in the wake of major natural and man-made disasters.
“Gaming is an invaluable community partner on the Gulf Coast, but no state can rest on its laurels,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “Sports betting offers a tremendous opportunity to give southern Mississippi sports fans what they want and ensures gaming continues to benefit Mississippi for years to come.”
Participants in the panel discussion included: Duncan McKenzie, general manager, IP Casino Resort Spa; Jonathan Jones, senior vice president and general manager, Harrah’s Gulf Coast; Wade Howk, vice president of operations, Boomtown Casino; Marcus Glover, general manager, Beau Rivage Resort & Casino; Larry Gregory, executive director, Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association and board member, American Gaming Association; Rep. Richard Bennett, chairman, MS House Gaming, Mississippi House of Representatives; Ashley Edwards, president, Gulf Coast Business Council; and Cynthia Minton Walker, CEO, United Way of South Mississippi.
“Gaming is a consistent economic driver for people in a region that has endured natural disaster and turmoil,” said Edwards. “The progress and influence we continue to realize as ‘One Coast’ is due in large part to the deep commitment of our Gulf Coast casinos to promoting opportunity and collaboration.”
In a sign of intense consumer demand for sports betting, 80 percent of Super Bowl viewers want to change current sports betting law, and two-thirds (66%) believe states should decide whether to legalize sports betting. Sixty-five percent of Super Bowl viewers believe transparent, regulated wagering will either strengthen the integrity of games or have no impact on game outcomes.
“Sports betting may be the next step in the journey that gaming has made in Mississippi,” said Gregory. “It could add another level to this platform of revenue and bring even more income to the state and its economy.”
In a major shift last November following months of study and deliberation by AGA and its members, the casino gaming industry announced its intent to study the implications of current law and build a coalition to determine if rational, legal alternatives exist. AGA has launched a new website dedicated to this effort that serves as the hub of its campaign to educate and inform stakeholders and allies.
Biloxi is the latest stop on AGA’s Get to Know Gaming campaign, which educates communities about gaming’s role as a community partner in 40 states across the country. AGA has hosted similar events in in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan.