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Top “Baker’s Dozen” Mississippi Gaming Stories of 2018

As we round the bend into 2019, we pause to reflect on the top Mississippi gaming stories of 2018. Here is our list:

  1. Out of the Shadows and Into the Light. On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Christie vs. NCAA, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) impermissibly preempted the states from regulating sports betting on their own. In the immediate aftermath, Mississippi was one of the first states to adopt regulations to allow sports betting. On August 1, bettors placed the first legal sports wagers in the State of Mississippi. In the subsequent 4 months, gross gaming revenue has increased 5.25% over 2017, and 3.00% over the same 4 month period in 2016. Additionally, gross gaming revenue for 2018 is on track to increase by approximately 2% from 2017.
  2. First in the NationThe Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians became the first tribe in the United States to offer sports wagering by opening sports books at its Golden Moon, Silver Star, and Bok Homa casinos.
  3. Not Very “Neighborly”While Tunica casinos celebrated the launch of sports wagering, its neighbor to the west (Arkansas) authorized new competition. On November 6, 2018, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing the state to issue licenses to operate four full-fledged casinos, which operations may include sports betting. Previously, only electronic games of skill were authorized at two racetracks in the state. The two newly authorized locations are Pope and Jefferson County, but no definitive plans have been established to open casinos in either county.
  4. TrailblazersThe Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association selected its first class of the Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame. Inductees were Lyle Berman, Co-Founder of Grand Casinos; Jack Binion, Founder of Horseshoe Gaming; William S. Boyd, Executive Chairman of Boyd Gaming; Bernie Goldstein, Founder of Isle of Capri Casinos; State Senator Tommy Gollott; and, Rick Carter and Terry Green, Co-Founders of Island View Casino Resort.
  5. New Game in TownIsland View Casino Resort opened its new Beach Casino, a $75 million expansion including a 43,000 square foot smoke free casino with 900 slots and 18 table games.
  6. Flights of FancyThe Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau announced new direct chartered flights to Tunica from Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, and St. Petersburg.
  7. We’re On; We’re Off. After announcing that Churchill Downs, Inc. would be acquiring from Eldorado Resorts, Inc. the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, the parties terminated the deal in July.
  8. Powerball, Anyone? In August, the Mississippi Legislature authorized a state lottery for education and infrastructure needs. The Governor appointed a board of directors to oversee the lottery, expected to commence operations in late 2019.
  9. Elbow Room. Treasure Bay announced an expansion to include a new parking lot and parking garage and a 10,000 foot increase in its gaming floor.
  10. Growing Family. Foundation Gaming Group (FGG) added to its portfolio the Fitz Casino and Hotel in Tunica. FGG already owns the WaterView Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  11. Closing TimeCaesars Entertainment announced it would cease gaming operations at the Tunica Roadhouse Casino effective January 31, 2019, further evidence of the challenging market in Tunica.
  12. Motion to TableThe Mississippi Gaming Commission considered, and tabled, the proposal of Long Beach Harbor Resort for a gaming project in Long Beach, Mississippi.
  13. Gobbled Up. In October 2018, Penn National Gaming completed the acquisition of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (Ameristar Casino Vicksburg), as well as the related divestitures to Boyd Gaming Corporation and real estate transactions with Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. After the conclusion of the transaction, Penn became the largest regional gaming operator in North America, with 40 facilities in 18 jurisdictions, including 6 in Mississippi.
© 2019 Jones Walker LLP

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About this Author

Thomas Shepherd, Gaming Attorney, IAGA President, 2014, Jones Walker Law FIrm
Partner

Tommy Shepherd is a partner in the firm’s Business and Commercial Transactions Practice Group. As an accomplished gaming attorney, he served as President of the International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) in 2014.

Tommy represents major casino companies, Native American tribes, manufacturers, suppliers, and financial institutions regarding all matters relating to the development, financing, licensing and operation of gaming and resort facilities. His extensive experience in such matters includes public-private leases, financings, land use approvals, statutory and regulatory...

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