We took a deeper dive into Mississippi’s milestones throughout 2019 and have listed those highlights below.
New Biloxi casino
In June, the Mississippi Gaming Commission gave site approval to what will be Biloxi’s ninth casino — Biloxi House — on the site of the former Margaritaville Casino on the Back Bay. The building, off 5th Street in East Biloxi, has sat empty since Margaritaville Casino closed in 2014. The anticipated development will include a casino with 40,000 square feet of gaming space, 1,100 slot machines, and 22 table games, as well as a 300-room hotel on South Beach Boulevard.
Sports betting handle
In the first 12 months sports betting has been available in the state, Mississippi has generated more than $3.6 million in tax revenue with a 10.11 hold percentage. Properties in the Gulf Coast and Tunica regions have turned $302 million in handle into $30,498,985 in gaming revenue.
Gross gaming revenue
As of this writing, through October 2019, gross gaming revenue is up 3.7%, or $78 million, over the same trailing 12-month period. Excluding the increase directly attributable to sports betting, that is a 2.25% increase over the trailing 12 months.
New lottery president
Thomas N. (Tom) Shaheen was hired as the president of the Mississippi Lottery Corp. Shaheen most recently worked as vice president and chief policy officer of a lottery technology company, Linq3. He was executive director of the North Carolina Education Lottery from 2005 to 2010 and before that chief executive officer of the New Mexico Lottery.
Eldorado Resorts announced plans to buy Caesars Entertainment, creating the largest gaming company in America. The proposed merger is a $17.3 billion cash and stock deal. Caesars Entertainment has two casinos in Mississippi — Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi and Horseshoe Casino in Tunica — while Eldorado Resorts has three casinos in the state: Trop Casino in Greenville, Lady Luck in Vicksburg, and Isle of Capri in Lula.
Lady Luck Casino purchase
Twin River Worldwide Holdings Inc. announced in July that it had entered into an agreement to acquire the operations and real estate of Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg in Vicksburg, Mississippi, as well as another out-of-state casino, from Eldorado Resorts Inc. in a cash transaction for $230 million.
Mississippi Circuit Court upholds site approval denial
In November, Special Circuit Court Judge Christopher Schmidt ruled in favor of the Mississippi Gaming Commission in its denial of site approval for developer Diamondhead Real Estate for a site near the Bay of St. Louis and developer RW Development for a casino on the Biloxi Strip at U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue.
This past spring, just in time for the Kentucky Derby, The Palace unveiled the first racebook on Coastal Mississippi, which is hardly a surprise since the casino owners, Robert and Lawana Low, also operate a 300-acre horse farm in their hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and are prominent thoroughbred owners and breeders. Subsequently, Scarlet Pearl has opened a racebook as well.
Lottery up and running
The Mississippi Lottery Corp. signed a contract with a unit of International Game Technology PLC. IGT will provide a central computer system and retailer terminals and will print scratch-off tickets. The lottery plans to sell scratch-off tickets beginning on November 25, 2019, and begin other operations, including selling tickets for multistate lotteries, in January 2020.