Casino revenue rise good news for local governments

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With gaming revenues on the rise and casinos making major investments, the people at Biloxi city hall are breathing a bit easier these days. One of them is Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols who likes this economic shot in the arm.

"We budgeted in our budget flat revenue from one year to the next, so it means right now for this month we have an additional $100,000," Nichols said.

He added that gaming revenues help keep the wheels turning in the city.

"It's about 30 percent of our overall revenue, and so it's very important to us. Without it, we wouldn't be able to do a lot of things we're able to do throughout the city," said Nichols.

The Golden Nugget is spending $120 million in upgrades with new restaurants, a state of the art pool and a new gaming area. It's a sign the company is optimistic about the future. Bradley Rhines is the Marketing Vice President.

"We've seen good rises so far in the first quarter, given all the construction coming into the market and us putting $120 million into this property. We really feel poised that we'll continue to help rejuvenate the Biloxi and Gulf Coast market," Rhines explained.

The Grand is also spending millions and re-branding itself as Harrah's Gulf Coast. The feeling is the same. Jonathan Jones is the General Manager.

"We are optimistic about this market. This has been a very stable market despite all the challenges, and we do think there's opportunity for growth, especially as we bring folks in from other markets around the country. We think that this market is poised to grow," Jones said.

While the rising gaming revenues are certainly good news for the governments on the coast, like Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Hancock County, it's even better news for the school districts according to Biloxi schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan.

"Well, it's definitely a boost to us when it does well, because we budget approximately a little over $5 million a year from our budget to that, and it definitely helps out in our operation budget," said McMillan.

The operations will run a bit more smoothly now, thanks to the luck of the dice.

Coast gaming revenues last month were almost $105 million, an increase of about $2.8 million from March of 2013.

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