Rising Gas Prices Worry Casino Officials

It doesn't take many words to explain how South Mississippians are feeling at the pumps these days.

"Outrageous. Absolutely outrageous," said Vonda Long.

That's because rising prices are not only affecting their wallets, but for some, it is dictating what they can and cannot do.

And as we approach the summer, that may mean road trips.

"If it gets too high, I know it will keep the family from coming to visit down here. I have friends and relatives who are coming down here to try to help out with rebuilding, and it's gonna be hard on them just to be able to travel down here," said Tammy Morosko.

And that type of response worries local casino officials, whose business depends on people driving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to have a good time.

They figure if more money goes into gasoline, less money is going into slot machines, which can have quite an impact on our recovery since these casinos are helping South Mississippi rebound after Katrina.

"A significant amount of our business comes from Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, so we think it's definitely going to have an impact," said Isle of Capri director of finance Larry King.

"Recognizing the amount of business coming to the gaming industry on the coast that is a drive in, it could have a significant impact on our business or other tourism related industries," said Palace Casino general manager Keith Crosby.

They are hoping potential South Mississippi visitors are thinking like Vonda Long of Gulfport, who believes you have to live with the cost and keep going.

She plans to travel quite a bit this summer.

"You got to pay what you got to pay for gas. It won't stop us. We got to," said Long.

This time last year, AAA says the average price of regular gas for South Mississippi was $2.18 - a 52-cent difference.