We took a deep dive into Mississippi’s milestones throughout 2022 and have listed those highlights below.
Still No Mobile Sports Wagering
At least five bills authorizing mobile sports wagering were introduced in the 2022 session of the Mississippi Legislature. However, once again, none made it out of committee due to the inability of gaming interests to reach consensus on a model acceptable to all parties.
Governor Tate Reeves reappointed Mississippi Gaming Commission Chairman Al Hopkins to another four year term in his post, and the Mississippi Senate voted to confirm.
Striking for Gold
MGM Resorts International, a longtime leading operator in the Mississippi market, entered into an agreement to sell the Gold Strike Casino to a business affiliate of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. If approved, this will be the first time that the Mississippi Gaming Commission will have licensed a Native American tribe to conduct commercial gaming operations in Mississippi.
The owners of the Magnolia Bluffs Hotel and Casino in Natchez sold the property to its new owners, an affiliate of Saratoga Casino Holdings LLC, a gaming company based in New York.
Happy Anniversary, Baby
The Mississippi gaming industry celebrated the 30th anniversary of legal casino gaming in the state, marking three decades since the opening of the Isle of Capri in Biloxi in 1992.
Battle of Long Beach
After years of litigation, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in favor of a proposed Long Beach casino project. Long Beach Harbor Resort, LLC seeks to build a $180 million casino resort on property north of Highway 90, across from the Long Beach Harbor. The project would include a 300-room hotel, three restaurants, and 40,000 square feet of gaming space. The company received site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission in January 2019.
Suffering No Ill Effects
While COVID-19 raged throughout the United States, the Mississippi Gaming Commission, like others, instituted a mask mandate and social distancing requirements, including an occupancy limit of 50%. These restrictions adversely impacted Mississippi gaming receipts for several years and remained in place until April 30, 2021. However, once those limitations were lifted, the gross gaming revenue numbers for Mississippi in 2021 exceeded $2.6 billion and for 2022 approached that same number. These were the highest GGR numbers since 2008.
Tug-of-War on the Beach
For years, RW Development has attempted to build a casino at its location on Veterans Avenue in Biloxi. Several times, the Mississippi Gaming Commission has ruled that the construction of a casino on the site is illegal because the site does not have access to the mean high water line due to the state-owned sand beach. The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed the commission’s actions. In 2021, the City of Biloxi and Harrison County sought to lease the sand beach to RW for development of a pier. The Secretary of State sued, asserting it has sole control of the sand beach. While a Chancery Court has ruled in favor of the city and county, the Secretary of State has appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court where it is still pending.
In 2022, the Mississippi gaming industry faced even more competition for the sports wagering customer. In addition to Tennessee having previously launched mobile sports wagering, in 2022 both Louisiana and Arkansas implemented both retail and mobile sports wagering, cutting deeply into Mississippi’s sports wagering numbers, and leaving Alabama as the only neighboring state with no legal sports wagering competition.