Southern Gaming Summit wraps up in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Casino experts talked about Internet gaming, financial outlooks and the impact of new competition. All were topics at this year's three-day Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi.

Coast casinos opened 20 years ago.  And this marks the 19-th anniversary of the Southern Gaming Summit. The event has grown into one of the premier conferences in the gaming industry.

The casino industry survived the recession and is enjoying a period of slow growth.Financial analysts at the gaming summit anticipate single-digit revenue growth in the Mississippi market, at least in the short term.

"I would say overall, from a broader perspective, that we would say the recession is over. I don't think we're anywhere near where we used to be. I don't think we will be there anytime soon," said John Maxwell, with Jeffries & Company.

One analyst says BP money should continue to influence the coastal market.

Christopher Jones representsTelsey Advisory Group.

"We've been hearing chatter that sort of the BP money certainly isn't over. It certainly seems there's a lot more non-gaming sort of coastal redevelopment money that I think is in the billions that will still be hitting the market, which is certainly going to speak to the non-gaming amenities side of this marketplace," he said.

New competition is about to shake-up the gaming market on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Margaritaville opens in less than two weeks. Golden Nugget promises to makeover "The Isle" when it takes ownership.

"New competition I think is always good in our environment and probably any other industry. As long as it's at a sophisticated level that is commensurate with the other folks that are already in the market," said IP Casino general manager, Jack Bernsmeier.

"We're a $1.1 billion industry on the coast. Don't forget that in 2007 we were a $1.3 billion industry. I don't think we're going to race right back to that, but I think that a property like Margaritaville coming on line shows confidence in the market," said Scott King, with the Gulf Coast Business Council.

One financial analyst said the availability of new capital for casino development and renovation is a good sign of the ongoing recovery.

He described interest rates as "acceptable" for funding new growth within the industry.

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