Biloxi casino industry posting record figures

The Biloxi casino resort industry has been doing record business in the past four months and Mayor A.J. Holloway says the vibrancy of the market is going to translate into the return of more restaurants, hotel rooms and other visitor amenities.

In September, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina, Biloxi’s seven casinos grossed $95 million, the largest monthly figure in the history of gaming in the city. October was the largest October, November was the largest November, and today’s release of the December gross gaming revenue figures showed a 26 percent increase — or $16.2 million jump — over December 2004 and the largest December in the history of Biloxi gaming.

“A lot of people across the country look at these numbers, and when they look at them they’re seeing a great story,” Holloway said today, shortly after the city announced the December results. “These numbers send a strong message about the strength of the gaming market here in Biloxi.

“But more than that, these figures are going to mean that we’ll be seeing more of the other amenities return – things like restaurants, tourist shops and the mom-and-pop, independent hotels. That means more jobs, more of the tax base coming back. And it’s coming back at record levels.”

Gaming revenue has traditionally amounted to more than a third of the city’s annual operating revenue. The city’s share of gaming revenue in 2004 was nearly $20 million, and before the Aug. 29, 2005 storm, Gulf Coast casinos were generating about half a million dollars a day in state gaming taxes.

Holloway said that about half of the city’s 9,200 hotel rooms back up and running — 68 percent of the 6,200 casino resort rooms but only 26 percent of the 2,900 non-casino hotels are back, according to the Biloxi-based Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association.

“That,” the mayor said, “tells me that this revenue is being generated by drive-in visitors, places like Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham, Pensacola, Panama City Beach and central Florida to the east, and places like New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Slidell and North Shore from the west.

“Just think once we see more of the other amenities come online. This is what is going to fuel a big part of our recovery.”

To see the monthly gaming revenues, click here.