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Gaming commission executive director gives high marks for Coast casino industry

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 8:03 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Gulf Coast gaming industry is in good shape, according to the Executive Director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. He’s also encouraged by the best April results ever, and he believes there’s more honey in the hive.

Allen Godfrey’s grade on the Gulf Coast gaming at couldn’t get any better.

“A+,” said Godfrey. “Very strong. Very strong.”

And he told those gathered at Thursday’s Mississippi Coast Chamber of Commerce presentation that we may not see the last of the kind of revenues reported in April.

“I think talking to operators, we feel like the momentum is continuing to go forward,” Godfrey said. “I think you’re going to see that May numbers are going to just as strong.”

And he said it’s because of a progressive attitude.

“Oh, I think it’s truly a testament to the owners and those that are running the property,” said Godfrey. “Just drive up and down the Coast and look at what their building, what their adding on. They’re reinvesting, continually refreshing. What they have to offer here, we can compete with anywhere in the country.”

And he said there will be challenges beyond a pandemic and hurricanes. One will be a pain before it’s a blessing.

One of the biggest amenities on the horizon and one of the biggest challenges right now is a mobile gaming app that would be operated by licensed casinos. Right now, that’s not happening in Mississippi. In fact, it’s one of the leading sources of illegal gambling in the state.

“It affects the properties in the fact that’s money not coming to them that could otherwise could come to them, especially if you had a mobile app in the way of sports wagering,” Godfrey said.

Jonathan Jones, Harrah’s Gulf Coast Senior Vice President and general manager, likes the app idea.

“We focus on the things we can control, and the mobile app I think would be good,” he said. “It would expose us to a new group of guests and then it would be our challenge to market to them and communicate to them the value proposition we offer at our properties and invite them over for a great stay with us.”

And Jones also likes the position Coast gaming is in now.

“We’re going great,” he said. “Really, really proud of the entire industry. Market’s been super busy. It’s a good place to be and we’re excited to be here.”

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