D’IBERVILLE — Larry Gregory helped lead South Mississippi’s casinos back from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina as executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission and now he will represent Mississippi on the board of directors American Gaming Association as it grapples with illegal gambling, fantasy sports betting and other issues.
Allen Gregory, current executive director of the Gaming Commission, made the announcement Thursday at the commission’s meeting at the new Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville.
“I think it says a lot for the state of Mississippi for your appointment on the board,” Godfrey said. He called Gregory “as credible a man and quality representative” for the state.
Gregory said he looks forward to bringing a Mississippi perspective to the issues in the casino industry. He started in the industry in 1996 and since his retirement from the Gaming Commission, serves as executive director of the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association.
Geoff Freeman, CEO of the AGA, came to the national convention of attorneys general in Biloxi, hosted by state Attorney General Jim Hood, to announce the organization’s campaign to bring attention and an end to illegal gambling.
Godfrey said the federal agency is working to get states involved in the issues.
Other state attorneys general recently announced positions on the legality of fantasy sports betting and Godfrey said, “We should hear something from the Attorney General in the near future.”
This isn’t the first time the Gaming Commission met in D’Iberville. A meeting was held at City Hall when Scarlet Pearl owners were asking for permission to proceed with construction.
It is the first meeting since the casino opened Dec. 9 and owner Bob Granier was there to give commissioners Al Hopkins and Jerry Griffith Sr. a tour of the $290 million casino. Commissioner Tom Gresham did not attend the meeting.
“We look forward to working with you in the future,” Hopkins told Granier.
The revenue from Scarlet Pearl, South Mississippi’s 12th casino, helped push the Coast’s casino revenue for 2015 to the best year since 2008.
Granier already announced that he’s looking to build a parking garage at the casino and said after the meeting he’s considering expanding south toward the waterfront.
“We’d like to put up another hotel tower if the numbers support it,” he said.
Also during Thursday’s meeting the commissioners:
— Approved the suitability of MGM Growth Properties LLC as landlord of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. This is one of eight requests that were approved as part of the restructuring of MGM casino properties.
— Approved the suitability of Wade Howk Jr., who is vice president of operations at Boomtown Casino Biloxi. Howk said he started in the local casino industry in 1994 as a valet runner. He earned two Associate Degrees from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, two Bachelor’s degrees from University of Southern Mississippi and an MBA from William Carey University. He also is a Certified Public Accountant.