Casino Companies to Rebuild in the Gulf and Move Inland

BILOXI, Miss._Putting casinos on ugly barges and sticking them in the water handicapped Mississippi casinos from the start. The big gambling companies never could construct anything along the Mississippi coast grand enough to rival Las Vegas...

City Councilman Bill Stallworth said the development could jump start a Biloxi renaissance.

Biloxi has a long way to catch up with the top gambling markets. Last year, Nevada generated $11 billion in gambling revenues, with the bulk coming from Las Vegas. Atlantic City had $4.8 billion and Mississippi $2.7 billion.

Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said he believes Mississippi could rival Atlantic City in the coming years.

"We're going to come very close to reaching or exceeding Atlantic City. These aren't going to be cut-and-paste barges like we had in the past," Gregory said.

Not everyone agrees.

"We believe operators building new land-based resorts in Biloxi should be at a competitive advantage to the older properties that were spared total destruction," said John Mulkey, a gambling analyst with Wachovia Securities. "We don't see a market anywhere close to Atlantic City, however, given the obvious population disparity in each's feeder markets."

Gregory suspects some of the casino companies might decide the cost of competing with the new, larger resorts will be too high and abandon the area.

"I think there will be some attrition," Gregory said. "Competition is going to be fierce in the early days."


Associated Press Writer Desiree Hunter in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.


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