City eyes impact of casino closures

“We’re evaluating every aspect of our city finances,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said today, hours after casino resorts in Biloxi and across the state closed to minimize the threat of spreading the coronavirus.

The city’s annual budget — about $66 million for operations and another $18 million for water and sewer services — had projected almost $20 million in gaming tax revenue from the city’s nine casinos in the current fiscal year.

“We’re certainly aware of the need to be deliver services that people expect,” Gilich said, “and we’re also aware of the need to have people to deliver those services.

“It’s a fluid health and economic situation, and as we move forward we’re making the best decisions based on the best information we have.”

The casino resort industry, which employs between 8,000 and 10,000 people in Biloxi, plays a huge role in attracting nearly six million people to the city each year. The Mississippi Gaming Commission on Monday ordered all casinos to close by midnight and remain closed until further notice. The commission’s emergency order said the threat of COVID-19 will be evaluated daily to determine a re-open date.

In addition to the closure of casinos, the city was considering the impact of closing the local schools on city departments, where many workers have children in school.

“We’re working through the issues,” said Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard. “Our departments, particularly first responders, are continuing to do the jobs they are expected to do.”

But, Leonard added: “The loss of casino gaming tax and sales tax revenue means Biloxi must make adjustments to balance the 2020 budget. That will impact all city departments.”
See who relies on the gaming tax revenue