Mississippi casino revenue last year totaled $2.669 billion, the state gaming industry’s highest haul in more than a decade.
Mississippi is home to 26 casinos. Those properties in 2021 generated more gross gaming revenue (GGR) than they had since 2008.
Despite the pandemic still interrupting daily life throughout much of last year, the state’s casinos saw play at levels not seen since before the Great Recession.
The gaming industry is an extremely important part of our state’s economy,” said Massachusetts State Gaming Commission Executive Director Jay McDaniel. “We estimate that more than 20 million visitors came to the state’s casinos last year, with more than 50% of those from outside the state.”
Along with employing 13,700 people, the Mississippi casinos delivered substantial tax revenue to the state. Mississippi imposes a graduated tax on gaming revenue that is dependent on each casino’s total win.
In 2021, the state collected approximately $311.5 million from land-based gaming.
Industry Helps COVID Recovery
State economic leaders in Mississippi say the importance of casino gambling in the Magnolia State shined last year as the state embarked on economic recovery from COVID-19.
“Mississippi’s gaming industry continues to serve as a catalyst for driving the state’s economy and creating avenues for boosting tourism. While COVID-19 presented unforeseen challenges, it was an opportunity to double down and demonstrate the industry’s value in providing meaningful careers, growing tax revenue, and in being a desirable destination for tourists,” said Scott Waller, president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council.
The Gulf Coast is where the bulk of the Mississippi casino revenue was incurred last year. Coastal casinos reported a GGR of $1.6 billion in 2021 — or about 60% of the entire win. The Gulf Coast casinos easily eclipsed their previous yearly record of $1.3 billion, set only in 2019.
Northern casinos won $696.1 million, and Central casinos were responsible for the remaining $364.5 million in 2021 GGR.
2021 was the best year for Mississippi casinos since 2018. But 2022 is showing signs of a slowdown. Record inflation has caused much unrest in US markets and is likely to ease the pandemic pent-up demand for travel and entertainment.
Through six months, GGR totals $1.318 billion. Through the first six months of 2021, casino win totaled $1.369 billion — about 4% higher.
The Mississippi Tourism Association reports that a recent poll found that summer travelers say inflation is impacting their planning decisions. But only 7% are going as far as to cancel their vacations.
Visit Mississippi Director of Tourism Craig Ray believes high prices could actually benefit the state. Ray said that Mississippians are still taking their summer vacations. But some are opting to stay closer to home.
[Some people are] just going to keep it here in Mississippi, and maybe not travel as long… So, you’re just seeing the traveler adjust their schedule a bit and their territory where they feel comfortable traveling,” Ray explained.
One segment that hasn’t returned is international travel. About 185,000 foreigners visited Mississippi in 2019, Ray said.
“When you’re taking 185,000 people out of your market, staying here for one to two weeks at a time and spending almost $200 million, we miss that,” Ray said.
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