2020 Mississippi Milestones
We took a deeper dive into Mississippi’s milestones throughout 2020 and have listed those highlights below.
UMUSIC Broadwater Hotel and Casino
Dakia Global U-Ventures and Universal Music Group announced a $1.2 billion resort to be built in Biloxi starting in 2021, with a target opening in 2023. The planned resort would have 1,150 hotel rooms, a 12,000-seat entertainment venue, and an 18-hole golf course.
Multi-State Draw Debut
Following the successful launch of the Mississippi Lottery in November 2019, the first multi-state draw games went on sale January 30 in Mississippi, with both Powerball and Mega Millions being available for purchase.
After selling the first scratch-off tickets Thanksgiving weekend 2019, the Mississippi Lottery transferred more than $70 million to the state treasury by the end of the fiscal year, July 1, 2020. The authorizing statute requires that the first $80 million in every fiscal year will go to the State Highway Fund, but any amounts beyond $80 million will go to the Education Enhancement Fund. It is anticipated that lottery revenue will fund the Education Enhancement Fund in 2021 for the first time.
Scarlet Pearl Renovations
Amid coronavirus-related concerns and closings, the Scarlet Pearl has proceeded with its planned $30 million upgrade, most recently opening the Orchid Room, a high-limit gaming area.
Gross Gaming Revenue
While casino properties in the state were shut down for a significant time in the spring due to COVID-19, the reopenings in time for Memorial Day weekend led to an extremely strong recovery in gross gaming revenue, with July and August reporting more than 5% increases over a similar time frame in 2019. Overall, the pandemic continues to prove challenging to the Mississippi gaming market.
Eldorado Completes Purchase of Caesars
Eldorado Resorts completed the purchase of Caesars Entertainment on July 20, 2020, creating the largest gaming company in America. The merger was a $17.3 billion cash and stock deal. Following the transaction, El Dorado (now named Caesars) has five casinos in Mississippi — Harrah’s Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Trop Casino in Greenville, Lady Luck in Vicksburg, and Isle of Capri in Lula.
Intense Hurricane Season
While the pandemic was challenging enough, 2020 brought one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, and the Mississippi gaming industry was not immune. Hurricane Zeta alone caused $50 million in damage to Gulf Coast casinos, in addition to the loss of gross gaming revenue during closures caused by the storm.
Mobile Sports Wagering
In December 2020, the Mississippi Senate Gaming Committee held hearings on the possibility of statewide mobile sports betting being made legal in the state. Will 2021 be the year?