Page 16 - Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News - Spring, 2022
P. 16

‘Outstanding’ SGS includes Hall of Fame induction
By Lori Beth Susman
BILOXI — Casino operators and employees from across the country spent four days on the Mississippi
Gulf Coast learning, socializing and celebrating during the Southern Gaming Summit sponsored by the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association.
Held May 3-6 in Biloxi, the Southern Gaming Summit was highlighted by the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame Gala, in which five industry leaders were honored.
Along with the popular golf tournament held at MGM Resort’s Fallen Oak Golf Course and welcome reception, the
SGS also featured the Global Gaming Women’s Luncheon, A Taste of Coastal Mississippi and an extensive six-session conference program.
Larry Gregory, MGHA executive director, said this year’s event was one for the record books. “The 2022 SGS was outstanding,” said Gregory. “We experienced record breaking numbers that made this year’s summit a success. Thanks to all of our operators, sponsors, attendees and the planning committee for making it a year to remember.”
Keynote speaker
Bill Miller, president
and CEO of the
American Gaming
Association, opened
the programming
with a conversation
with Gregory, telling
the audience that
the adaptability and
resiliency shown by
the gaming industry
during COVID were
two things that
surprised him. “We were shut down just like everybody else,” he said. “And in the interim, we became vaccination centers, we became testing centers, we became the economic and social hubs of many of the community in which we operate all over this country. And, so once again, (the gaming industry) showed what a responsible employer looks like.”
Miller added the pandemic also brought to the forefront the issue of cashless gaming. “Why is the gaming industry, which is so modern in so many different ways, the last place — like garage sales and flea markets —
that only deals in cash? I’m not suggesting that we’re going to move away from cash entirely, but the advances in the digitalization of transactions in the gaming industry is remarkable.”
And although Mississippi had record revenues in 2021, there are still some areas of the industry that have not fully recovered. Convention trade shows and business travel, Miller said, have not yet come back, along with certain amenities, such as buffet dining. “We still have another layer of economic growth coming.”
   Bill Miller
Cashless gaming was discussed
in other sessions throughout the conference. In the regulatory
update session, Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Jay McDaniel said they were waiting on cues from the operators. “I think what we’ll see is, at some point, some properties are going to say, ‘this is what we want, let’s try it.’ But as (Bill Miller) mentioned there will probably be a day where it’s all digital and there’s no more cash.”
In a roundtable discussion with Mississippi operators and general
managers, barriers for continued success, including delays with
the supply chain, trouble with
the construction labor force and difficulties in hiring and keeping employees, were explored. Trying to find companies to take on jobs such as hotel room and restaurant remodels hasn’t been easy in all areas of the state as several of the panelists said they were having trouble getting contractors and skilled workers. Projects are taking longer than expected, which is
leading to higher costs and customer dissatisfaction.
As to difficulties in retaining casino employees, the discussion turned to relaxing some of the job expectations and showing latitude when it came to those workers who called in sick or showed up late. Operators said they couldn’t afford to alienate workers when it was so difficult to find replacements.
Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort
CEO LuAnn Pappas said, “These
are challenges that, at least in my experience, we’ve never had to deal with. (We’re) just ready to accept things that
you would not have accepted before. The challenge with that, is most people in the business that are in leadership positions are reluctant to make those changes because they only know one way, and it takes a lot of communication to be able to convince people that now we’ve got to change.”
Additional sessions included Being a Responsible Operator in 2022, Legal Roundtable Discussion and iGaming and Sportsbetting.
Hall of Fame
Inducted into the 2022 Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame at the evening
gala were Allan B. Solomon, Virginia McDowell, Craig H. Neilsen, Kagemasa Kozuki and John Hairston.
Industry Pioneer
Allan B. Solomon has more than four decades of regional gaming experience. As one of the co-founders of the Isle
of Capri Casinos Inc., he was part of
the executive team since its inception
in 1992. Solomon served as executive vice president and general counsel of the company until 2008. He also was CFO and treasurer of the company from June 1992 through October 1993, and was a member of the board of directors and company secretary from June 1992 through July 2003. Solomon played
an instrumental role in legal affairs, legislative matters, new jurisdiction expansion and investor relations, helping grow the company into one of the leading regional gaming operators.
Solomon, who grew up in Boston,
Hall of Fame inductee Allan B. Solomon with Larry Gregory, MGHA executive director

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