Other Opinions

Casino industry has $4 billion impact in Mississippi

There’s an industry with a robust presence in every corner of Mississippi. It’s an industry providing Mississippians with a pathway to the middle class and beyond. It’s an industry contributing nearly $1 billion annually to local governments in the form of tax receipts and investments in roads and bridges, first responders and public schools. It’s an industry creating more than $4 billion in total economic impact across the state.

Over the last three decades, Mississippi’s commercial and tribal casinos and their suppliers have become part of the fabric of the Magnolia State. Most importantly, those casinos have become a critical building block to the state’s growing economy.

Every day more than 37,000 employees report as chefs, security guards, accountants, caterers, florists, meeting planners and more at not only 29 casino properties, but also the businesses and local vendors they support, from the Gulf Coast to the Delta. These properties and their devoted workforce build world-class entertainment experiences renowned across the U.S. and around the world.

As the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, I am proud to tell the distinctive story of gaming in Mississippi. This week, we are meeting with area leaders to unveil Casinos & Communities and spotlight our industry’s significant impact on local Mississippi communities. The report features Mississippi business leaders, nonprofit executives and gaming employees telling the story of how gaming boosts entire communities — from residents and families to small businesses and local municipalities.

The perspectives of your neighbors — fellow Mississippians — detail an industry that is a reliable, trusted partner who is invested in community building. Tunica Mayor Chuck Cariker lived through the entrance and maturation of the area’s gaming industry and describes a community where young people are staying more than they did a generation ago because of the career opportunities available in gaming.

Across the state, industry operators support more than $1.6 billion in wages, breaking down barriers to the middle class for many Mississippians, and bridging longstanding community divides by creating opportunities for upward mobility. Jeffrey Jenkins, executive chef at Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi, describes his rise through the ranks as generationally impactful. It means he can help his children fulfill their dreams while also inspiring others in a reinvigorated Biloxi community.

As I’ve traveled the country and witnessed our industry’s impact firsthand, it is easy to see how important gaming is to communities and the responsibility we have as employers and residents in them. Whether it is providing staging grounds for first responders in the wake of natural disasters, or pursuing philanthropic investments with area nonprofits, the gaming community gives back. Nonprofit leaders from the Southeast Mississippi Red Cross Chapter to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Mid-South count on the gaming industry to not only provide financial support but also volunteer hours to pursue and build community programs that assist so many in need.

It’s clear that our industry and the state are growing side-by-side. We have accomplished so much together already, and our future is even brighter. Gaming is proud to be a leading employer, taxpayer and community partner in the fine state of Mississippi.

Bill Miller is the president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association.