Casino profits down nearly 50 percent, which means less revenue for local governments

Updated: Apr. 21, 2020 at 7:57 AM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - New numbers from the Mississippi Gaming Commission show just how hard the gaming industry has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The MGC reported Monday that casino profits across the state are down by almost 50 percent. Coast casinos earned $67 million in March, compared to March 2019 when they earned $124 million.

Biloxi Mayor Fofo Gilich said South Mississippi’s casinos started 2020 strong but the pandemic has caused a massive drop in profits.

“It was off to a great year. It really was," said Gilich. “We were hitting our stride, I think, for the rest of the year."

On March 16, MGC ordered a statewide closure of all casinos to prevent the spread of coronavirus among staff and visitors.

Gov. Tate Reeves acknowledged the importance of Mississippi’s casinos during a coronavirus press briefing.

“We’re going to work with the commission to find ways to allow for a safe reopening of those entities," said Reeves. ”The casino industry is an industry that employs tens of thousands of Mississippians. It’s critically important to our economy and it’s certainly critically important to the revenue streams, particularly of the local governments."

Biloxi is home to eight of the 12 casinos on the Coast. The city budgeted $20 million in gaming revenue for 2020, which would be used to fund public schools, public safety programs and more.

“We’re concerned about getting back to business as almost normal and we fear that it won’t be normal until this virus passes," said Gilich.

The Biloxi mayor noted that city leaders are working with the state to decide how to re-frame the budget and prepare for a potentially greater loss.

“Gaming is very important and we want to make sure that it gets back and recovers as best as it can in the next several months," said Gilich.

Eight percent of all Mississippi Gaming revenue goes to the state budget.

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