Page 8 - Mississippi/Louisiana Gaming News - Summer, 2021
P. 8

Casino revenue jump a big deal in Mississippi By David Grisham
 MISSISSIPPI — Statewide, gross gaming revenue in Mississippi for the first half of 2021 reached totals that haven’t been seen in more than a decade, and for coastal casinos revenue reached never-before-seen numbers. Casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are currently on pace to set an all-time record.
Through the first six months of this year, casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast recorded gross gaming revenue of $820,631,377, outpacing the first half of a record-setting 2019 by more than $165 million.
River casinos had gross gaming revenue of $549,640,215 during the first half of 2021 and are in the midst of the best year since 2012. And, buoyed in large part by the performance of coastal casinos, statewide revenue of $1,370,271,582 (read: $1.3 billion)
for the first six months of this year is
on track to meet pre-recession 2008 numbers.
Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich called the numbers “astounding,” adding, “Can you say parlay? Our goal is to parlay this into increased activity. People — visitors and investors — see that we have a great deal of excitement and promise here in Biloxi and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast...”
The 2021 revenue figures are even more impressive considering live entertainment has been limited or non- existent at casinos and many buffets have either been eliminated or converted during this period. The more than $1.3 billion in revenue for the first half of
the year at Mississippi casinos stands in stark contrast to revenue in 2020, which totaled $1.8 billion for the entire year and was down 18.4% from the previous year.
According to the American Gaming Association (AGA) State of the States report, the decline in 2020 was primarily attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced all Mississippi commercial casinos to suspend operations between March 16 and May 21. Upon reopening, casinos were required to comply with a series of guidelines, including a maximum occupancy of 50 percent of capacity, in
order to ensure social distancing in their facilities.
Later in the year, commercial casinos located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast
were required to close again for several days in September and October due to Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Zeta. Collectively, Mississippi casinos lost an estimated 18% of total operating days
in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and the two storms.
And even though 18.4% represents
a big drop, good news can still be gleaned even from these numbers when one considers that Mississippi fared much better during the height of the pandemic than 21 of 24 other gaming states. Michigan, New York, Rhode Island and Maine, for example, saw a gaming revenue decrease of more than 50%. The difference, as reported in
the AGA report, can be attributed in large part to the fact that Mississippi reopened sooner than other states and avoided subsequent pandemic-related shutdowns.
The impressive revenue numbers for Mississippi in 2021 are not exclusive
to the state, however. According to
the AGA, U.S. commercial gaming revenue reached $13.6 billion in the second quarter of 2021, marking a new industry record. The total bested the previous record of $11.1 billion set in the third quarter of 2019 and matched in the first quarter of this year by more than 22%.
With nearly $24.8 billion generated to
date, 2021 is close to surpassing 2020 full-year revenue ($30 billion) and on track to overtake 2019 ($43.6 billion) as the highest-grossing year ever for commercial gaming revenue.
“These first half results are truly remarkable. It is even more impressive when you consider commercial gaming revenue was at its lowest point ever just a year ago,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “This is a testament to our resilience and commitment to providing customers safe environments and world- class entertainment experiences.”
At the state level, 22 out of 25 commercial casino states saw quarterly gaming revenue increases in the second quarter of 2021 compared to that
of 2019. The majority (19 of 25) of commercial casino states outperformed their first half of 2019.
“The past 18 months have proven that this industry can persevere through hard times while remaining dedicated
to our customers and communities,” said Miller. “COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview mirror, but I’m confident the record first half of 2021 has laid a strong foundation for the industry’s full recovery.”
And although there is no guarantee that the last two quarters of 2021 will bring the same success as the first two in the Magnolia State, industry insiders are encouraged by the surprising success of Mississippi casinos this year and by how much they’ve overcome. They like the odds.

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