The local news will make
Our politicians are bought and paid
The Miss-Lou’s breaking news:
Kids’ fishing tournament returns to the
Jobs picture is so-so
Riverland Medical Center
is making a good profit.
The Advice Goddess:
He loves his girlfriend but she rarely
expresses an opinion.
Terry Savage on money:
Make the plan and stick to the plan.
McAllister on health:
Very few men actually have low T.
Thomas Sowell thinking clearly:
Barack Obama will leave office with the job half-done.
The greening of America
has encouraged over-regulation.
Tourists and pilgrims welcome:
Fall Pilgrimage starts this month, the
perfect time to visit Natchez-Vidalia.
Win cash or prizes!
There’s still time to
enter and win $200 cash.
More good writing:
Betsy McCaughey, Michelle Malkin,
Walter Williams and Peter Rinaldi
write for www.natchezsun.com.
Casino sheen is fading
by Charlie Mitchell
is reclaiming the acres of parking that served what was Mississippi’s
largest casino complex. One white pickup with a blinking orange light now
prowlsthe vast real estate of Harrah’s Tunica — the only security remaining
from 1,000 folks who lost jobs three months ago when Caesar’s Entertainment
decided to stop losing money at the venue and shut it down.
Tunica County, a stone’s
throw from Memphis in the northwest corner of the Delta, was listed among
America’s most poverty-stricken in 1990, the year Mississippi lawmakers
opened the state’s river and coastal counties to Las Vegas-style
the changes that came. For one thing, Tunica, the town, canceled property
taxes. The $2 million a year harvested from casinos (along with sales tax
rebates) was plenty to keep the place flush … more money that locals ever
dared dream of receiving.
Today, official Tunica is nervous that the cash tap may run dry.
won’t. Not anytime soon.
casino industry is still more than viable in Tunica — Caesar’s Entertainment
still operates two large properties there and six other casino-hotelswelcome
patrons — but it seems clear enough that the growth trend has reversed. From
that corner of the state south along the Mississippi and east along the Gulf
Coast, revenues are slipping. In central Mississippi, the Silver Star and
Golden Moon — operated by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and not
subject to state casino taxes — are also not what they were. Golden Moon,
perhaps Mississippi’s most impressive structure of any type, has closed
except on weekends for several years.
What’s going on?
for one thing, some type of casino experience is now available in all except
10 states. Can you say “glut?” For another, the appeal of gambling hasrun
hot andcold through all American history, back to the lottery-financed
the over-arching reality — the one that may matter most— is that official
Mississippi has been and perhaps always will be of two minds on this topic.
State and local governments adore the cash, but have a disdain to think
about or discuss the behavior that generates it.
goes back to the beginning. About the same time casino legislation was
wending its way through the back channels of the Legislature, the Supreme
Court was deciding whether the Mississippi Constitution would
allowcharitable bingo at VFW posts. Yet when lawmakers went home, the media
(and many lawmakers) discovered a statute — passed with absolutely no
discussion or debate and with few fingerprints — that put Mississippi in
direct competition with Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Within a few years,
Mississippi actually had more total square feet of casino space than along
the New Jersey coast.
Taxation methods vary from place to place in the state, but for the most
part it’s accurate to say 12 cents of every dollar a customer leaves at one
of the 21 state-regulated casinos flows to a city, county or state bank
Starting in 1992, gross gaming revenues rose sharply and steadily every year
(except 2005 due to Katrina), but the total peaked at $2.8 billion in 2008
and has been sliding since. Every month (except June) this year has been
leaner than the same month last year. The casinos are actually on the same
revenue pace they were way back in 1997.
those spinning slot wheels and rolling dice have generated a jackpot of $4.5
billion in state and local taxes. On a yearly basis, that money fundsonly
about 4 percent of state spending, but it provides 30 percent or more of all
the money local governments in casino towns and counties harvest and spend.
It’s also pretty
compelling is that even with Harrah’s Tunica shuttered, the casino industry
still employs more than 20,000 people. That’s at least four times as many as
the Nissan and Toyota plants combined and almost twice as many as the
state’s largest single employer, Ingalls Shipbuilding.
Still, in the Capitol the prevailing attitude is that gambling is “sin.”
Other jurisdictions may have come to grips with it as “entertainment,” but
not Mississippi. If any other industry needed help, state officials would be
offering incentives or assistance.
no one is talking about any government actions that might sustain or
bolster casinos. Official Mississippi’s reaction to
the numbers is kind of like what can be heard at a craps table: Oh, well.
Easy come, easy go.”
Charlie Mitchell is a
Mississippi journalist. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677, or