Gulf Coast casinos were hit hard by The Great Recession. But, it appears they are on track to have another great year on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Last year ended strongly, and 2018 is off to a great start. If this trend continues, the casinos will have a sixth straight year of growth at the end of the year, which will be a positive sign they are continuing to grow and promote tourism and gambling on the Gulf Coast.
Since the Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos have opened, they have contributed $6 billion in tax revenue, including $2 billion to local governments and school districts.
The Gulf Coast Casinos
The first casino, the Isle of Capri casino, opened along the Gulf Coast in 1992 near Point Cadet at the urging of politicians who represent Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. They felt that without gambling to increase tourism, the area would go broke. Now, there are 12 casinos along the coast of Mississippi, with revenue at more than $1 billion a year.
The biggest threats to the Gulf Coast casinos have been hurricanes and oil spills. Almost three weeks after the last casino opened, the three casinos were forced to shut down because they were in the path of Hurricane Andrew, which hit the area in August 1992. While the casinos remained unscathed after Andrew, they have not always been so lucky. Several hurricanes have caused damage to or destruction of the casinos. Most recently, the casinos had to close in the fall of 2017 because Mississippi was in the path of Hurricane Nate in October. This cut into the revenue for the coast at the peak of the season. However, no hurricane did more damage to the Gulf Coast than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It obliterated casino boats and left the entire area devastated. The casinos were closed for months so they could rebuild.
In addition, the oil spill that resulted from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon off the coast of Louisiana in 2010 also led to a huge decline in tourism until the oil spill was capped and the area was cleaned. The casinos lost months of summer revenue.
The Gulf Coast casinos have been in a revival mode since 2012 as the recession was leveling off, and more attention was being devoted to the offerings of the casinos for tourism. While other casinos in the state, especially in Vicksburg and northern Mississippi, continue to decline, the Gulf Coast casinos continue to enjoy profitability.One reason casinos along the coast have remained profitable is that they not only cater to the tourist trade, but they offer locals opportunities as well. The casinos advertise heavily when a local resident wins a jackpot, and the three largest jackpots in Mississippi have been won by people living on the Gulf Coast. In addition, the casinos have been undergoing renovations and redesigns to keep locals interested and offer world-class entertainment in their venues as well. The casinos also offer family-style entertainment rather than the bawdiness of the Vegas casinos, which fits into the Gulf Coast family-friendly atmosphere.
The Possibility of Sports Betting Along the Gulf Coast
Mississippi is one of the states that is considering sports betting, and it is expected that sports gaming will be allowed on the casino boats by the end of the year. This should mean additional revenue for the local boats. Many of the boat companies said they would be able to quickly place venues for sports gaming. Mississippi officials expect the casinos will be able to offer on-site gaming before the end of the year, with online gaming coming in 2019. These advances will only allow the casinos to continue their streaks of profitability.
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