BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Wednesday, gaming experts, lawmakers and casino executives came together to talk about the state of the Coast casino market.
The event kicks off the approach the 25th anniversary of gaming in Mississippi, as well as the year-long celebration of its success. It all began in August 1, 1992, when the Isle of Capri became Harrison County's first casino; instantly transforming the state of the economy.
"We came in 1992 and started creating jobs and spin-off jobs, not just directly with in casinos, jobs with suppliers of goods and services," said Duncan McKenzie. "I think all those things have snowballed into us being as important to the state as we are today."
Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association arrived on the Coast to mark the milestone. The AGA represents the U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states.
"Development of the Gulf Coast casino market during the past 25 years has generated $6.5 billion in state tax revenue directed from gaming to the state; it's a great story to tell," noted Freeman. "The market is diversifying and developing new products. We have 25 years of history here, 40,000 jobs right now. I'm proud of what they've done. It's a model for other communities."
With $53 billion in total revenue in the state, properties now realize they have to continue investing and expanding beyond gaming alone.
"I think those types of things are what we need to continue to look at. Better non-gaming amenities with the existing operators," said Jonathan Jones.
When Mississippi opened the door on gaming in 1992, only a handful of states had casinos.