In Mississippi, especially the Gulf Coast, casinos are generating more revenues than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s Gaming Commission data showed that the casinos made a 21% increase in gross gaming revenues this year compared to the same period in 2019.
Records from the Gaming Commission also indicated that the casinos made a total gaming revenue of $1.1 billion from January through May. Gulf Coast casino revenues for March, April, and May went much higher than those in other regions. They reported an increase of $46 million for April alone and a further $34 million in May.
Biloxi’s Palace Casino general manager, Keith Crosby, explained that due to many businesses closing with the start of the pandemic, money was no longer circulating in the economy as it used to. He added that “On the flip side of that effect, the casino industry got ahead of it with some significant safety measures in place to deal with COVID.”
In 2020, all casinos in Mississippi reported close to $1.8 billion gross revenue, including the two months shut down due to the pandemic. 2019, the year the pandemic started, the casinos reported $2.2 billion. There’s still half of 2021 left, and casinos in Mississippi are already on pace to make the highest revenues since the ’90s.
Casinos on the Coast are Making More Money
Gulf coast casinos spike is a result of the rising number of tourists visiting the gulf coast. The tourism bureau Coastal Mississippi marketing director, Karen Corner, confirmed that Gulf Coast is receiving more tourists than it has ever been for the last few years. “Tourism is the lifeblood of Mississippi’s tri-county coastal region, but despite the indelible impact of COVID-19 on the industry, Coastal Mississippi continues to see success and growth.” She spoke. Coastal Mississippi is on the verge of recovery as a tourist destination, and the increased tourism activities confirms the progress.
Housing Gaming Committee chair Casey Eure, the state representative and a Republican from Biloxi, said that the rebirth of more professional sports events has contributed to the industry’s growth. Mississippi state legalized sports betting in casinos in 2018. Eure believes Mississippi casinos rank highly in the country. He said that “People have been happy to get back to normal life.”
The Challenge behind the Numbers
The growing revenues have complications too. Mississippi’s hospitality industry has an immense challenge of getting qualified staff. High labor demands are resulting in raising wages and high costs of operations. Beau Rivage is the largest casino on Mississippi’s Coast. It advertised 99 open positions on its website in June. Biloxi casino and resort hosted a job fair in May. The event attracted 300 people and culminated with a need to fill 120 positions.
In an interview, Sandra Collins said, “People are more or less demanding to go back to work when it’s safe, for one, and when they deal fairly paid…some have used the pandemic to gain new skills and feel confident asking for more.” Sandra is an economist from Mississippi University Research Center. The struggle to fill the critical service industry jobs remains a great misery that has adversely affected the industry.
Crosby noted that the cost of doing business is skyrocketing. He also added that “food costs are up, material costs are up. You have to think about what that nets out to. There may be better revenue, but there is a creeping increase in cost following that.”
Shifts in the supply chain have become undependable with pricy poultry and scarce crab legs. A popular water valve, for instance, used to go for $8. Today, the same valve costs $18. According to the skyrocketing prices, the casino manager says that the high revenues might not continue for long.
Last Updated on by Ryan