Page 11 - Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News - Fall, 2023
P. 11

  Bobby Moak
House in his first run for political office in 1984. Serving as the first Chairman of the Gaming Committee, Moak is credited with working across party lines and shepherding into law what is commonly referred to as “the 800-Foot Rule,” which allowed casinos to move on shore, helping to revitalize the Mississippi Gulf Coast gaming industry after Hurricane Katrina.
Accepting his award, Moak said the evening seemed like “Katrina night.”
“Everybody here on the dais is affiliated with Katrina and that’s where we got to know each other,” said Moak. “One of my first memories after the storm was IP Casino within literally days, or hours, started feeding people in the community. I saw it and I said, ‘that’s real.’ What it did was help to solidify the gaming industry and how people thought about the industry on the Gulf Coast.”
Although it was a bad time in late 2005, Moak said it was a time
that turned into something different. He and others met
with the Governor’s office and knew what needed to be done. “And then we set about doing
it with our gaming committee. One thing about our committee, it was very small and not many of the people were from the Gulf Coast,” he said, recalling how he told the committee members they would get
to figure out the future of the gaming industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“And that’s what we did, and we did it all together.” House Bill 45 was passed in the 2005 special session.
Moak gave accolades to industry leaders saying, “You share a common interest in making sure you have an economic agent that helps this Gulf Coast and our state of Mississippi grow. You are a close-knit leadership group, and I appreciate you.”
Haley Barbour
Industry Regulatory/Government Official
Haley Barbour, who served as the Governor of Mississippi from 2004
to 2012, played a significant role in
the recovery and prosperity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the gaming industry, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was instrumental in advocating for federal aid and securing significant financial assistance from the federal government to aid in the recovery and rebuilding process. Barbour lobbied tirelessly in Washington, D.C., to ensure that Mississippi received the necessary resources to rebuild the devastated areas.
“Some 30-plus years ago, Mississippi legalized casino gaming. And I have to confess to you that I was not sure it was a good idea,” Barbour said. “And candidly, I stand here to tell you that I was dead wrong. And the job that was done by Mississippians as we brought this into fruition was something we all have to be proud of. ”
Barbour continued, saying his view
of how well legal gaming had turned
out in the state was so strong that when he ran for governor, he had in
his campaign platform a commitment
to keep the regulation and practices in place. He also stated his opposition to a
Former Gov. Haley Barbour with Larry Gregory, MGHA executive director.
state-run lottery, which he considered a device that takes money away from the casinos, which build facilities, hire tens of thousands of workers and have huge investments in the state.
As governor, Barbour actively supported and encouraged the reopening and revitalization of the region’s casinos, understanding
that their recovery would contribute significantly to the overall recovery of the area. He worked to streamline regulations and expedite the permitting process to facilitate the reopening of casinos, and he recognized the need to cut through bureaucratic red tape and create a business-friendly environment to attract investment and stimulate economic growth.
“I’m honored that Mississippi’s economy continues to be hugely benefited by casinos,” Barbour added. “This is a distinct honor for me to be associated with this great industry.”
Prior to the Hall of Fame awards being presented, Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich spoke about the positive growth of the gaming industry on the Gulf Coast. There was also a tribute to Maj. Gen.
Al Hopkins, Sr., who passed away in February while serving as chairman of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Additionally, the MGHA presented a donation of $3,500 to the nonprofit Bacot Foundation of South Mississippi through money raised from Hall of Fame sponsorships.
   Penny Bankston, MGHA chair, and Larry Gregory (right), MGHA executive director, presented a donation of $3,500 to the Bacot Foundation of South Mississippi. Todd Trenchard (left), executive director of the Bacot Foundation, accepted the donation.

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