Mississippi Gambling Decline Due To Increased Competition
The state of Mississippi had yet another tough month in September, leading to analysts trying to figure out what has gone wrong with a state that has enjoyed being one of the top three gaming destinations over the years. The conclusion many of these analysts have reached is that competition from dozens of states is causing the drop in revenue.
"Over the past decade, casino gambling has become one of the quickest growing industries in the US," said Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz. "It was only natural that Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Nevada would lose some business due to the competition, and that is exactly what has happened. I would expect that trend to continue as long as the industry keeps growing."
Mississippi turned to casino resorts in an attempt to break out of the revenue funk, but the resorts have largely been scaled back in scope. Originally, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino was expected to bring customers back to the Gulf Coast. The project started out as a $700 million investment, but as the developer realized that the economy was souring, the investment shrunk to less than $50 million.
Ironically, Margaritaville is one of the brands that several states are turning to. A new Margaritaville Casino opened this past weekend at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. Thousands of gamblers showed up to see what the new facility had to offer, and when they arrived they were greeted by dealers with sandals and a beach attitude by employees.
Lawmakers in different states have approached the shrinking casino investments in different ways. Mississippi gaming regulators claim they will not give in to the new trend of smaller slot halls as opposed to large casino resorts. The regulators claim that the minimum investment standards will be upheld moving forward.
The same can not be said for New Jersey lawmakers. In Atlantic City, casino resorts have been the norm since the inception of the gaming industry in New Jersey. Last year, lawmakers changed the standards and authorized a smaller investment requirement. Hotel room requirements have also been dropped to only 200, down from the mandatory minimums that had previously been seen.
Although Mississippi is resisting the idea of smaller casinos, they may soon have no choice but to accept the new reality in today's economy.
According to Webster Franklin, President of the Tunica Conventions and Visitors Bureau, "...people are now choosing to spend much less on leisure entertainment options like visiting a casino."
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