Mississippi Gaming Commission Comes Under Fire From Casino Operators
The Mississippi casino industry all across the country remains in a state of flux. New markets are opening for both land-based and online casinos. New states are joining the industry while others expand current offerings. The new football season has opened the doors to expanded legal sports betting in progressive gambling states.
Why Does The Mississippi Gaming Commission Come Under Fire From Casino Operators?
Mississippi has always been a pioneer in the US real money gambling industry. Land-based casino gambling has been legal in the Gulf region and Tunica for more than 25 years. There has always been a good working relationship between operators and the state’s gambling commission. However, that may be about to change.
Relayed in a post on Mississippi Gaming Commission, state casino operators have raised questions concerning the state’s governing body. The current issues go back to 2015 when Gulfport attorney Al Hopkins became chairman of the Gaming Commission. Things recently came to a head when it came to the matter of two new casino license requests.
Larry Gregory was the former executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. He is now the executive director of the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association. He wrote a letterto the Gaming Commission that spelled out “serious concerns” about the regulation of the state’s 26 casinos under Hopkins’ direction.
The six-page letter was sent to state Rep. Casey Eure, a Republican from Biloxi. Eure is currently the chairman of the House Gaming Committee. Gregory stated that the casino industry is “…concerned as it has watched the commission dedicate an extraordinary amount of its resources to assist RW and DH.”
Were RW Development and Diamondhead Real Estate Turned Down For Casio Sites?
This refers to RW Development and Diamondhead Real Estate. Both entities were turned down for casino site approvals by previous Gaming Commissions. RW’s plans were first rejected in 2008 for a new site in Biloxi. The reasoning was the lack of control of the property to the water’s edge. DH’s request was denied in 2014. The property in this situation was described as “thousands of feet from the Bay of St. Louis.” Neither company appealed those decisions, so under state law they became final.
Gregory added that:
“The law is clear that once the time for an appeal expires, the decisions become final and cannot be reconsidered.”
The current Gaming Commission gave both companies a chance to file again for approval. Special hearings took place in 2017. At that time, Allen Godfrey acting as the new executive director recommended that both requests be denied. The commission filed suit with a 3-0 vote to accept this recommendation.
RW filed a third application in June of 2017 and the commission allowed it to go forward. Gregory stated in his letter:
“Chairman Hopkins announced that he was not allowing the executive director to make a recommendation on the RW III application for site approval. Stating that none was required under his view of the law.”
The letter added that this decision goes against the process followed by the commission for the past 25 years. At this time the entire matter has gone to a circuit court for a further ruling.